Catatonia (2014) – Film


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After the murders of her friends, when they broke into Oakhurst Sanitorium, and her own near death at the hands of the criminally insane Buddy, teenaged Rosie Delgado has entered a catatonic state and now resides in the Nutmeg Valley State Hospital.  However, due to state funding cuts, a correctional facility closed down forcing Nutmeg Valley to accept Charles “Buddy” DeWitt.

There is a lot going on in this intense sequel to Play Hooky.  I picked the DVD up some months back, watched it right away, as I usually do, without reading any sort of description, then set it aside knowing that it would need more than one viewing.  The story is layered and complex.  Some layers are executed really well, and others… not so much.

Kim Kleemichen reprises her role as Rosie, our severely damaged main character, not only suffering Post Traumatic Stress and abandoned by her family, but continuing to be subjected to various abuses, primarily by some of the hospital staff.  This must have been quite the challenging role, as Rosie is non-responsive to most of what is happening to and around her… in the “real world.”  The audience is treated to flashes of the other worlds in which Rosie’s mind is trapped, as certain stimuli break through the catatonia and reach her.  These worlds, her dream world and what she perceives is real, are visibly different from the “real world”  in color and texture, and filled with labyrinthine passages through which to run and hide.  At these times, we can see the doll-like masked figure, La Llorona, who, presumably, is the supernatural entity which  had influenced Megan (Becky Byers) in Play Hooky, and now lives in Rosie’s broken mind, stalking her, as she fights to protect what is left of her innocence.   The audience is first introduced to this entity when Tom Petrone, returning in his role as Buddy, steps off the bus at the hospital, and in facing him, Rosie begins to face her trauma.  Conversely, every time Buddy sees Rosie, he believes, in his delusional mind, that they are friends and playmates. I enjoy Petrone’s open, expressive performance, and his effectively childlike delivery.  As Rosie’s torment continues, due to the animosity of the nurse and by the horrific abuses of one of the orderlies, Buddy, who once tried to choke her to death, becomes her protector and savior.

The problem I initially had with this film is purely clinical.  The way the staff at the hospital is portrayed would never actually fly.  This was a big reason I set this film aside for a while.  Revisiting the film, I was able to set aside my outrage that the depiction that the nursing staff would be so awful (aside, of course for the villains of the piece), and alter my perspective.  If the audience views these characters from the perspectives of the various patients, it is plausible, nay, logical, that such extreme ranges of caregivers would be represented the way they are.  The kind, idealistic doctor versus the cold, jaded nurse, with perhaps has a bit of a god complex.  The gentle, patient nurse, who may be a little overly attached versus the brash, ham handed orderly, who doesn’t even see the patients as real people anymore.  Of note, the performances of Vinnie Bernardo as the villainous, predatory Albert, and Ann Parkhurst as the cruel, selfish Nurse Baskum, seriously, there is nothing redeeming in this character at all.  Which is an unfortunate missed opportunity, because if any softness been shown, she wouldn’t be one-dimensional.   At least I hope that these representations are intended to be the perspectives of patients who are suffering altered mental status.

I think that, though it is a very different style and not quite as strong as Play Hooky, this is still an ambitious film that can, at times, be confusing for the viewer, it is, for the most part, a successful send off for Rosie and Buddy’s stories.

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