A bombastic throw-back horror-comedy that follows three young women who go out partying one night and find themselves Frankensteined together in one body.
October 17, 2015
Tyler Macintyre and Chris Hill
Tory Stolper as Jennifer
Tracey Fairaway as Ellie
Maria Blascucci as Madeleine
Patchwork enjoyed its World Premiere at the 2015 Screamfest Film Festival as an Official Selection. And things got even better on closing night when it took home a very respectable three festival awards: Best Editing, Best Actress for Tory Stolper and the biggie award – Best Picture.
While it received an honorable mention on my own wrap-up list for the festival (not quite making my top five features), it’s still one heckuva good time.
It pulls inspiration from several other legendary horror films including The Bride of Frankenstein (or any Frankenstein film incarnation for that matter) and most notably, Re-Animator. Why, there’s even a hearty dose of neon-green fluid used to inject certain monstrous experiments! And that’s not all! If you’re a film fan outside of the horror genre, you’ll also recognize that heaping helpings of Carl Reiner’s All of Me have been thrown in for good measure!
Three very different women (Jennifer – played by Tory Stolper, Ellie – played by Tracey Fairaway and Madeleine – played by Maria Blasucci) are “enjoying” a night out at a swanky bar. Things aren’t going great for any of them – but when they wake up the next morning, they find that they’ve been kidnapped, killed, dismembered and sewn back together with chunks of the other two ladies – in order to create one perfect female. They each have control over their remaining intact pieces and they now share a brain – as well as each other’s deepest thoughts. As one, they are now known as “Stitch”. Once they reach an agreement on how to properly control this triple-minded body (and how to adequately disguise their horrible disfigurement), they set out on a quest for vengeance. Who did this and why? The film relies on multiple flashbacks to see how each woman met their demise and who – in their last hours as their own whole person – might be suspect.
Despite its grisly premise, this is definitely a horror-comedy. The above-reference to All of Me is suitable for a couple of reasons. Once the women are gruesomely combined (complete with ghastly scars), Stitch is played solely by Tory Stolper. It’s worthy of comparison to Steve Martin’s genuinely hilarious and seemingly difficult physical performance in All of Me. But he was dealing with only one other person “inside” his body. Stolper had to pretend that there were two more souls taking up residence in her shell. It’s no wonder Stolper took home the award for Best Actress. The moment the film’s screening ended, anyone with half a brain (or a third of a brain in this case) could predict her inevitable win – right then and there. And if you require confirmation that I’ve just compared Stolper’s exquisite physical work to that of the great Steve Martin – consider it confirmed. Stolper’s that good!
The other conceit shared by both films, is that many times, the other inhabitants of the body are shown in some sort of other dimension. Whereas the Lily Tomlin character could be seen only in mirrors, the ladies of Patchwork are simply edited into the same scene – back and forth between the still-clumsy Stitch and the three women having conversations and bonding. Again, with the insane editing here, that award was an automatic given.
While it’s certainly the gifted Stolper’s picture, there’s no denying that all three actresses deliver amazing performances. Seeing their lives through the many flashbacks – provides plenty of sympathy for each character, particularly Ellie. Tracey Fairaway plays Ellie as a typical dumb blonde, but is also able to show Ellie’s needy and lonely side. She has no self-esteem and watching her in her desperation in the bar or with the frat boys (the scenes with the frat boys – “I’m a good guy” – are pricelessly funny) makes you root for her most of all. Of all the revenge dished out by Stitch, it’s the scenes with Ellie’s tormentors which will have you cheering. Frankly, Jennifer’s a cold bitch, so it’s harder to love her, but that gives her a heftier journey to undertake. And that’s another great thing about Patchwork – three women and three destinies which must choose better paths. The film gives equal face-time to each character’s life, but again – Ellie takes top billing.
And lest you expect cookie-cutter reveals of each girl’s life in their separate flashbacks – be prepared for the unexpected. I love when a film can surprise me like this!
Not much in the way of scares – but the frequent and well-done gore will have you laughing and gagging simultaneously. Honestly, whether in the operating room where Stitch was brought to life, or during one of the many murderous rampages to find her/their killer, there is no shortage of bloody fun in Patchwork.
The bottom line for me – I enjoyed the film very much, but it didn’t resonate as deeply as other selections at this year’s Screamfest. Great performances, lots of wackiness and extreme gore made it memorable, but not enough to hand over a score higher than 4 (which – let’s face it – is still an awfully good recommendation). There was a lot of talk following the film with my screening buddies that this was their festival fave. Unfortunately, it didn’t reach those heights for me.
Although Patchwork didn’t get that coveted top nod (from me at least) it’s still a bloody and rollicking good time and absolutely worth an hour and a half of your life (or afterlife if that’s your bag).
Screamfest was the world premiere, but chances are the film will soon be blazing its way through the festival circuit. So keep your eyes peeled (or just cut them off – in honor of the film) for any info on a theatrical and/or VOD release or possible screenings at a festival near you!
And I’ll leave you with this patched/stitched-up phrase – to now be quoted by horror movie nerds throughout the ages: “Release the owl-cat”. That is all.