TAD 2015: Patchwork
This year’s Toronto After Dark Festival has a wide-range of horror genre films. Everything from home invasions, haunted houses, zombie apocalypses, to Japanese action flicks show up in the line-up. Adding to that is one of the closing night selections, the body horror comedy film Patchwork, directed by Tyler MacIntyre. This Frankenstein and Re-Animator-inspired story is a humourous revenge tale with a social commentary twist.
Jennifer (Tory Stopler) is a woman who is career-driven with few friends. While out one night at a bar waiting for her supposed friends to show up to celebrate her birthday, she makes plans with her adultering playboy boyfriend to meet at her place later that night. While waiting around for him at home, someone sneaks in and hits her over the head with a baseball bat. When she comes to, she finds her self in an operating room in an old warehouse. She feels strange and can’t walk very well and her head is swimming. When she gets a look in a mirror she discovers scars over her face and two other voices in her head, Ellie (Tracey Fairaway) and Madeline (Maria Blasucci). The three of them realize they have been the subjects of a bizarre medical experiment to re-animate dead bodies. The three of them have been stitched together using various body parts from each woman to make one new person. They formulate a plan to escape and they retreat to Jennifer’s home for safety. It is there that they vow to exact revenge on who did this to them. They retrace their last remembered steps and one by one narrow down the search of what happened by taking out the men that wronged them.
The film is sectioned into chapters that each reveals a different piece of the puzzle in a non-linear timeline. Following this format creates an interesting story and is more engaging for the viewer. The third act reveal is an interesting twist on the story that makes the film come together nicely, allowing the viewer to mentally pull it all together and enjoy the sinister motivations behind what’s really happening.
For a low budget horror film, the body make-up and bloody set decoration is nicely executed. It’s gross and icky without being too over the top and enjoyable. The director and cinematographer could have enhanced the effects if they had chosen to be bolder in how the filmed the violence. Much of the killing is just off camera or implied which ends up creating a rather tame scene.
That decision to go soft on the violence combined with dialogue that had intentions of being funny but wasn’t and the slow pacing at times unfortunately end up creating a rather mild horror film that isn’t always successful. However, the writing near the end does help pick it up a bit. In the end it can be seen as a commentary on our culture’s pursuit for beauty and perfection pushed to the extreme.