14th Nov2019

‘The 11th Patient’ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Shelly Cole, Steven Cole, Liesel Kopp, Andy Gates, Lawrence Lee, Derek Cole, Robert Korhonen | Written by Derek Cole, Steven Cole | Directed by Derek Cole

11th-Patient-poster

Can you say Nightmare on Elm Street knock-off? If you can then you probably don’t need to watch The 11th Patient, which mines all the terrifying dream sequences found in those films and recycles them in the story of a kid trapped in a coma. Only these filmmakers can’t even make a body in a plastic bag look scary!

The official synopsis goes like this: “A boy is found in a coma deep in the woods several months after his kidnapping. The man that kidnapped him is still at large and Steven is the only person who witnessed and survived the ordeal. Now, Steven has been brought to a Doctor who specializes in PTSD patients. He must connect to Steven and make him face his fears in order to bring him out of his coma and catch the man that did this.”

Sounds promising right? Wrong.

It takes less than fifteen minutes to know you’re in for a rough time with The 11th Patient which, pardon the pun, will probably wear your patience down waaaay before the end credits roll. You see the film tells the first two-thirds of its story through visuals alone – there’s no dialogue in Steven’s dream world – and the visuals, at least to me, felt like someone had a handful of ideas as to what would LOOK scary but put no thought into how they’d actually be scary in terms of the story and plot.

Yes, I get this is a dream-like world we’re seeing but without context, without clarity into what’s happening (seriously, when you have to read the synopsis to have any clue what’s going on, your film is onto a loser from the get-go) everything becomes a little “so what?” It’s not like The Cell, which used a similar pseudo-scientific explanation to dive the audience into the exploration of a man’s mind or the aforementioned A Nightmare on Elm Street, which had a child-killer at the centre of its story – something terrifying in itself. Here we have a kid, in some wooden tunnels and rooms, coming across “scary” stuff.

It’s scares for scares sake. There’s no explanation of who this kid is (beyond a brief and vague scene in which he escapes his captor) or why we’re seeing what we are seeing. Without that there’s no possibility of feeling sympathy for him, no possibility of fearing for his well-being. If we’re not told WHY we should care, why SHOULD we care?

It’s almost an hour into The 11th Patient before the filmmakers even attempt to tell the audience what’s happening but by then, I fear, for many it will be too late. Which is a shame because at that point – when what we’re seeing is explained and the struggles of our “hero” Steven are revealed, the film takes a turn into the fantastic. If only the rest of the film had been that well-developed? Maybe if the Cole’s (for this is a family affair) were working with more than a few thousand dollars it could’ve been…

The 11th Patient is out now on DVD and Digital from Uncork’d Entertainment.

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