Herbert West would sure be proud of Tyler MacIntyre, the young writer/director re-animating the gruesome legacy of Stuart Gordon’s cult hero.
As gut-bustingly funny as the sources from which it draws, MacIntyre’s retro throwback Patchwork benefits from an injection of originality that keeps it from being obsequious.
Jennifer (Tory Stolper), Ellie (Tracey Fairaway) and Madeleine (Maria Blasucci) don’t know each other yet, but they’re about to – after a night on the town, they wake to find themselves stitched together into one Frankensteinian horror. With separation seemingly impossible, they seek out the next best thing – good old-fashioned revenge.
MacIntyre’s unashamedly schlocky, B-movie approach is tone-perfect for the film, particularly considering how closely it apes Re-Animator and the ’80s works that inspired it. Chaos reigns from beginning to end – every wild impulse on behalf of the writers is allowed and expanded on to ridiculous effect.
Patchwork shines brightest in how it navigates the challenge of filming one body with three personas. Scenes of Stolper, Fairaway and Blasucci conversing as normal are spliced with stolen glances at the creature (Stolper) having conversations with itself, spasming in an effort to control its own limbs. Watching this Frankenstein flail about is impressive, and often hilarious.
Therein lies the unique element of the film. The interplay between three characters in one body works surprisingly well, and the film gives weight and time to its female leads. Hand Mary Shelley a machete, a suffragette flag and a Dead Kennedys mixtape, and you may get the picture.
In any film of this nature, the audience comes expecting the wrath of a woman scorned, but you’ve never seen it like this. The creature’s extended, manic assault of the foul denizens of a college frat house has to be one of the riotous scenes appearing at Sydney Film Festival, and is preceded by a similarly uproarious sex scene. You think Fifty Shades is hardcore? Try losing an arm!
MacIntyre’s choice to structure the film episodically strikes as dysfunctional, however. Certainly, the title card saying “MASSACRE” gets the people going, but it feels token elsewhere, a gag conceived out of covering structural weaknesses in the storytelling. Other slips in consistency are more forgivable – Corey Sorenson’s knowingly corny monologuing at the end is ludicrous enough to warrant it. And even though most characters are mere fodder, a few manage likability, particularly James Phelps’ weedy nerd Garrett.
A feminist Re-Animator with a retro soundtrack and lacking in all subtlety? Two tickets, please!
Patchworkwas reviewed as part of Sydney Film Festival 2016.