22nd Oct2013

31 Days of Horror: ‘The Clinic’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Tabrett Bethell, Andy Whitfield, Freya Stafford | Written and Directed by James Rabbitts

the_clinic

Allegedly inspired by true events, but seemingly more inspired by the urban legend of waking up in a bath of ice with an organ removed, The Clinic tells the story of Cameron (Whitfield) and his pregnant fiancee Beth (Bethell) who are forced off the road by a mysterious driver whilst they are on their way to spend Christmas with their relatives. Choosing to spend the night in a sleazy motel rather than carry on with their journey following the late-night accident Cameron goes off to find some food. Like all good (and not so good) horror movies set in a sleazy motel that turn out to be a big mistake. Returning to their motel room he finds Beth, and their unborn baby gone.

So far so cliched right?

Well maybe not. The Clinic turns proceedings on their head and instead of focusing on the husbands search for his missing wife follow exactly what happened to Beth… who awakes in a bath full of ice having been subjected to an unwanted C section, her baby taken from her and then left to fend for herself in an abandoned warehouse facility. Only she is not alone – also in the warehouse are four other women, all of whom have had the same procedure and of whom are just as confused as Beth. And on top of that, someone is stalking and killing them one by one… and re-opening their wounds!

This could have been just another mainstream “abducted wife” movie, but thanks to writer/director James Rabbitts The Clinic veers into more twisted territory, turning out to be a film that has more in common with the classic Ozploitation movies of yesteryear than any horror film Hollywood has put out recently. For starters there’s a very “Australian” look to the film, reminiscent of Picnic at Hanging Rock and Turkey Shoot - its hard to tell whether that’s because the film is set in the late 70s or if it was a conscious choice to pay homage to those films on a part of writer/director Rabbitts. Whichever reason, The Clinic looks great, ironically looking fresher in its retro stylings than its contemporaries!

What really helps raise The Clinic above many other straight to DVD horror fare is the cast. Rabbitts has gathered together a fantastic cast of women, lead by The Legend of the Seeker actress Tabrett Bethell, who we are introduced to stark naked in a bath of ice with a messily stitched up and bleeding C section. The look of sheer terror on her face in that scene says more about the situation that any narration or plot exposition ever could; and her characters gradual realisation that only she can “prevent” what is happening to her is acted out in perfect progression by Bethell. Its a superb final girl performance from the actress, easily on a par with other iconic horror females – why the hell Bethell has been hiding is cheesy fantasy fare like …Seeker I don’t know.

There are a number of gaping plot holes, none moreso than why a bunch of intelligent women (as Rabbitts presents them throughout most of the film) suddenly turn tail and run like frightened bimbos from a couple of feral dogs? And whilst the films final twist(s) come out of left field they are still very much welcome, but the “villain” of he piece is somewhat of a letdown, hence I felt a little dissatisfied come the denouement.

Otherwise The Clinic is a fantastic modern entry in the Ozploitation genre, on a par with the likes of Wolf Creek, and as such deserved to do much, much better… An under-appreciated gem.

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One Response to “31 Days of Horror: ‘The Clinic’ Review”

  • Sam

    Just watched this don’t know what youre on about it was really bad. Nothing that happened in it made any sense, totally stupid, full of plot holes, devolves into a boring derivative stalk and slash movie pretty quickly. And its nowhere near as good as any of those ozploitation flicks you mentioned