“So it's a remake of Frankenhooker?” is what my friends said when they saw the trailer.
“I guess,” I replied, never having seen Frankenhooker.
In the end, I think Patchwork probably owes more to Reanimator and that one episode of Buffy than anything else: it's got a glowing green reagent and a monster made out of three different people.
Jen, Ellie, and Madeleine wake up to find themselves inhabiting the same body. More the point, it's one body made up of parts from their bodies. Working together, the girls go on a rampage, getting vengeance on those who wronged them. When they find out who's responsible for what happened to them, their quest for retribution brings them face-to-face with the real monster in their midst.
Patchwork is a slick movie featuring good gore effects, great physical comedy, and a couple of hilarious make-out scenes. The narrative is broken up into parts (get it?) exploring each woman's night up to her abduction, and the things they do together as a “team.” Stitched together, these scenes tell a story about obsession and perfection and begs the question as to whether these girls are actually better off in their new “body.”
Jen, Ellie, and Madeleine have problems, and each one is lonely in her own way. Jen's too focused on work to cultivate any meaningful relationships, Ellie wants desperately to be loved and thinks she'll find it at the bar, and Madeleine suffers from serious personal issues that prevent her from forming lasting friendships. Being forced to inhabit one body sort of “cures” their loneliness, and a friendship develops between them. Individually, each woman was destined to unfulfilled in some way, but together they achieve a kind of stability and a find a satisfying closure on their past.
Patchwork is light in tone and balances out the horror and seriousness of some of its themes by drawing attention to the sheer absurdity of the situation. Stitch, the Frankensteinesque monster, moves about in a distinctly awkward fashion, as it takes time for Jen, Ellie, and Madeleine to master how to walk. It reminded me of Vincent D'Onofrio in MiB. Equally amusing Stitch's rampage, which includes beating up an entire frat and attacking a guy too self-involved to realize he's in danger. Being Stitch empowers these women, makes them murderously confident, and it's a fun ride for the audience.
Patchwork began life a short film, which was expanded into a feature. Unlike other movies with a similar pedigree, this one doesn't feel like it's too long or slow, or that it's missing any story development. Patchwork hits all the story beats, and sectioning it as they did helps move the film along. To be sure, the film focuses on the women who become Stitch, so if you're wondering how the mad doctor managed to make her in the first place, prepare to be disappointed—no explanation is given. But the audience is treated to a glimpse of his other creations, including an owl-cat.
“So it's not a remake of Frankenhooker?” he asked when I explained the movie.
“I guess not,” I replied, still having never seen Frankenhooker.
Still owing a lot to Frankenstein-inspired stories of the past, Patchwork is its own movie with its own take on what happens when you reanimate a body built from parts.
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