Final Patient, The (DVD)
Directed by Jerry Mainardi
Distributed by Echo Bridge Home Entertainment
Growing old is a problem most of us will have to deal with. In time our bones will become brittle, eyes will become dim, and we'll shrivel up into heaps of dust. In the real world there is no way to combat the effects that aging brings on, but on film, anything is possible. What would you give to discover the fountain of youth?
Dr. Daniel Green (Night at the Museum's Bill Cobbs) is in his mid-seventies and Mrs. Green has been very ill for sometime with Daniel as her care giver. Life is simple, if not stressful, but the good doctor's secrets soon crawl out of the basement when he saves a young boy using an amazing feat of strength rare among the elderly. This heroic act brings the unwanted attention of the local sheriff and two med students who are determined to discover what keeps Dr. Green so healthy. But, Mrs. Green isn't too happy to have visitors ... not happy at all.
Sweet damn The Final Patient is a slow movie. The start is promising when the doctor's hidden discovery starts to unravel but the pace gets stuck in tar thanks to a lengthy dinner scene that is used to explained everything to us. Instead of delivering bits of Green's discovery of an age defying potion in increments it is all handed down rapidly just before the end, and the ultimate undoing of his continued inner youth comes in the form of an ice cold beer. AW YEAH! To say more about that would ruin the whole experience, but it was such an oddity that it could not go without being mentioned.
The Final Patient is acted well, and superior to many other direct-to-video features in many respects. Cobbs never goes over the top with his performance. He is easily accessible as a caring husband who only wanted to do something wonderful for his wife. Though this story should be scary it feels more like a tragedy. It would have helped if Mrs. Green had been fleshed out more instead of staying behind the scenes until the fiery finale. The two college kids who get wrapped up in the whole mess are fun, but we know they are going to bite it in the end thanks to the films opening scene. This makes it hard to put stock in their characters since they may and will bite it at any moment. Still, this is far better than the usual interchangeable kids we see in other horror flicks.
The music is a little overdone and mismatched. The score sounds a lot like a Dead Can Dance album that never fits the mood or action that takes place within the film. It is sort of like playing Metallica during Finding Nemo. That aside the sets make up for the misplaced tunes. The interior shots of Dr. Green's house are all on location in PA. The farmhouse is amazing and adds an extra punch of realism.
Sadly the special features within The Final Patient gather together and form an experience that is far more entertaining that the film itself. First off the commentary is the perfect example of what filmmakers should do when handed a mic: never shut up. Director Jerry Mainardi and producer Michael Mainardi hardly let a fraction of a second go by without filling the speakers with information and praise. Yes, they did have a good cast, but the ultimate outcome was far from great.
We can forgive the back patting when moving on to the Behind the Scenes material. Both the make-up and staging footage are also narrated by Jerry and Michael giving us the ins and outs of the long process it took to build the inside of Dr. Green's home and the painstaking artistry involved with creating his wife's disfigured noggin.
The Beginning & End: From Storyboard to Editing is a great inside look at how simple computer programs can help filmmakers overcome obstacles encountered when shooting on location ... in this case, a very cramped location. To accomplish the task of fitting cameras, crews and equipment into Green's house, a PC tool was used to recreate the interiors to scale that would allow the director to place cameras and plan out how to shoot each scene. This technique blows the traditional hand drawn story-boarding out the window since filmmakers can place not only cameras but actor models into the program as well. Good stuff!
In short The Final Patient is heavy on character but very light on suspense and frights. So much time is spent sitting around making sure the audience can grasp the plot and back-story that the end effect is far from terrifying. The Mainardi's have proved to be talented so maybe we will see better things from them in the future.
Behind the scenes footage of make-up and staging
The Beginning and End: From Storyboard to Editing
3 out of 5
4 1/2 out of 5
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