TADFF 2015: Patchwork
Remember when you went to the video store and found a schlocky B-movie on VHS with lots of gore, sharp humour and, well, more gore? You’ll find it all with Tyler MacIntyre’s Patchwork.
Jennifer (Tory Stolper) is uptight and self-absorbed. She is a repellent to those around her, and is mistreated by her married boyfriend, and boss, Dan (Mark Hapka). After an unsuccessful celebration for both her promotion and birthday, Jennifer goes home to her lonely apartment and is killed by an unknown assailant. When she awakens, she is bewildered and not alone. Jennifer’s brain has now become a shared space with Ellie (Tracey Fairaway) and Madeleine (Maria Blasucci), two other confused women. Unbeknownst to them, they have all been killed and various parts of their bodies have been sewn together by a crazy surgeon (Cory Sorenson). Frightened and disoriented, the three women work together, like a Franken-woman with a collective consciousness, to find who turned them into this abomination.
One can’t deny the Re-Animator nods – the special thanks to Stuart Gordon at the end credits confirms this – that are sprinkled throughout Patchwork. The interesting thing that this film brings to the mad scientist trope is that it tells its tale from a female viewpoint. Most of the male characters are terrible one-dimensional human beings. While the women are caricatures in their own right – Jennifer is the ambitious business woman; Ellie is the ditzy and desperate “Bar Star;” and Madeleine is the awkward wallflower with self-esteem issues – they manage to work together, granted in an awkward girl power way, to get their revenge. The zany nature of the film allows for pointed commentary. Tyler MacIntyre openly pokes fun at the unhealthy quest for physical perfection that plagues society. The unrealistic expectations placed on the notion of beauty, and our reliance on cosmetic surgery to achieve them, is what fuels the flames of this campy cautionary tale.
Patchwork is self-consciously stitched into 8 parts. Like the monster at its core, the film’s segments each offers a unique aspect to the tale, especially as we navigate through each woman’s backstory. MacIntyre’s gives the film a feel that is very reminiscent of Japanese cyberpunk. This is further emphasized by the occasionally shaky camerawork and the way he uses gruesome practical makeup and gore to bring the Franken-Jennifer to life. As Jennifer, Stolper gives a strong performance, effectively conveying a creature unfamiliar with her body parts, as she lurches from scene to scene. The way in which the film evokes the sense of all three women being in the same room while “brainstorming” was really clever as well.
Fully embracing its schlocky tropes, while providing an interesting revenge tale, Patchwork is a Franken-woman movie that will satisfy fans of 80’s style campy, and gory, horror.