Written by: Matt Molgaard
Directed by: Various
I’m always on the hunt for anthologies that boast memorable segments. I also prefer my anthologies to be extremely well-assembled with thought provoking wraparounds as opposed to brainless fragments of “horror” that segue into each heartless film. Patient Seven doesn’t just offer a strong wraparound, it delivers a beautiful tale all its own that interweaves throughout each and every story, and those stories, might I add, are awfully enjoyable!
Michael Ironside plays the physician who completely owns the interweaving tale, and while he brings a very controlled delivery to set, he still sports that naturally menacing demeanor, and he still knows what it takes to grab the attention and not let go. These qualities help the man in extracting truths from patients being held in the Spring Valley Mental Hospital.
With each patient to be escorted into his interview room, a story slinks along as well. And these stories, unlike plenty we’ve seen in other anthologies, look to really break expected molds. We have – for the most part – legitimately unique stories to soak up, and that goes a long way in impressing someone like me, who’s seen a good 100 anthology films over the last 30 years.
I won’t tell you every single last story breaks new ground, as there are a few that come across as slightly uninspired or very familiar. The bulk of these revelations however, are excellent. The screenwriters of this piece – Paul Davis, Sam Dickson, Richard Falkner, Paul Fischer, Omar Orn Hauksson, Jacey Heldrich, Dean Hewison, Barry Jay, Brian McAuley, Joel Morgan, Johannes Persson, Nicholas Peterson, David Steenhoek, Aidee Walker and Rasmus Wassberg – all show enormous potential. The fact that all but seven of those sharp minds also direct is damn inspiring. No matter how you slice this cake, there’s rich filling in every bite.
I adored the fact that the film looks cohesive. Patient Seven doesn’t have the look of an anthology that featured a handful of filmmakers tossing their previously crafted works into a pile and hoping for selection. The cinematography looks generally unswerving and each piece manages to cling to the fibers connecting the wraparound. To be blunt: the movie looks great and barrels forward in a way that leaves the viewer eager to see the next segment, not a hint of desire to fast-forward in the minds of viewers (well, at least not in my case).
Rather than highlighting each particular story I’ll shed a little radiance on my personal favorites in the flick.
Paul Davis’ The Body is nothing shy of spectacular. It’s not only well-acted, it takes the term eerie to places rarely explored. Great look, great twist and a finale that you probably should see coming, but may not. This is a superb offering that arrives in the earlier portion of the movie, but it sticks to you like superglue. The fact that there’s some glorious black comedy consistently incorporated in the short just sets it totally and completely over the edge!
The Visitant is another sublime slice of storytelling. Initially you may be impressed simply by Amy Smart’s participation, but you’ll quickly learn that Smart is only one small piece of this terrifying monster story. And trust me, it is indeed terrifying, in large part due to the way that the great Doug Jones brings a terror-inducing monster to life. It’s basically all practical makeup work for Jones’ monster and it is absolutely gorgeous. No doubt, The Visitant is an easy pick for favorite.
It can also be debated that Undying Love is the least inventive story in the lineup, but it looks excellent, and the fast-paced chase sequences ensure that surviving in a zombie apocalypse can indeed be a daunting challenge… especially when you’re essentially recruiting the few remaining living souls on the planet in order to deliver them as food to one man’s… well, dying love. It isn’t ingenuity at its finest, but it’s a short burst of solid entertainment, especially for an undead piece.
And now, it’s time to speak on the film’s final short piece. Well, it’s time to skim through the final segment, as quickly as possible, because I’m not too big on spoilers. These are the moments in the film in which the unexpected climax is not only nurtured, but delivered to viewers with a bloody bow to top it all off. Again, no spoilers for you. However, so be sure to watch this film.
A few of the segments on display offer top notch gore. And the picture couldn’t possibly be any more consistent. As of right now, I haven’t been able to dig up proof that these films were specifically selected to appear in the flick or if they were pre-existing tales brought together for a nightmarish amalgamation, but if they were specifically eye-balled by a professional of some sort, the scout who pinpointed these features deserves an enormous portion of appreciation. The stories truly are consistent in regards to writing, cinematography and aesthetic value. That’s a rare thing. It’s also more than enough to warrant my unbridled support. Terror Films scores big with its gloomy, atmospheric star feature, Patient Seven, one of the greatest anthologies of the last decade.