Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Free Healthcare At Its Not So Finest

In case you haven't noticed, it's October! That means this!

and stuff like this!

and some of these!

to go with these!

Also, horror movies! They're back! See for yourself:

Quick Plot: 1979 was six long years before the advent of DNA testing, something The Clinic tells us IMMEDIATELY so as to serve as a constant reminder of why the characters will later do some of the icky things they’ll later do. Got that?

Cut to the happy and exceedingly pretty lookalike couple Beth and Cameron, an engaged pair en route to visit Beth’s parents for Christmas. To do this, they have to drive straight across Australia and since this takes place 26 years before Wolf Creek, you can’t blame them for not knowing only very bad things happen to pretty people who dare drive through the outback.

After a Jeepers Creepers-y incident with an angry truck, the very pregnant Beth and Cameron stop for the night. Having trouble falling to sleep on Christmas Eve at a fleabag motel, Cameron takes a midnight stroll only to return to his room to…nothing.

The local yokel cops are no help, eventually arresting Cameron for getting too fired up about their lack of policing. As he struggles to find Beth, the action shifts to a large warehouse and factory farm facility where Beth wakes up in a tub of ice with a new belly scar in place of her baby.

Before long, she stumbles upon three other women who have recently been subject to unwanted C-sections. All are dressed in plain robes with Roman numeral name tags, and none have any idea how they came to end up in such a place. All they really know is that whoever took their babies also took the time to sew their wounds, although such a minor reprieve isn’t much consolation when a) your newborn is missing and b) there’s a fifth woman on the hunt for all of you.

Before I delve into spoiler territory—something I simply have to do to discuss some of the film’s strengths and weaknesses—let me say that first-time writer/director James Rabbitts is definitely one to watch…as a director.

The performances, design, and pacing of The Clinic is all top-notch. These factors go a long way in helping you forgot some of the positively misguided plotting of the script.

Spoilers will commence. Movie virgins can skip down to Rent/Bury/Buy for the big finish.

For the rest of you cinematic sluts, here goes:

In a twist that seems to call to mind Martyrs meets Battle Royale, we discover that the ladies are part of a twisted adoption agency that kidnaps highly successful pregnant women and pits them against each other in a battle to the death. Whoever survives gets the honor of having her baby adopted by a wealthy couple that then seals the deal by shooting the winning birth mother. 

Now just imagine what these parents will later do to get their kids into a good kindergarden!

As far as horror third act twists go, it’s not a terrible one. Just rather ridiculous, especially considering the ADDED twist that Beth (who was a last minute replacement in the wrong place at the wrong time) is actually a graduate of the infant program, thus explaining mysterious nightmares she’d had her whole life (because somehow, we retain everything that happened in our first week alive) and her surprising survival instincts.

I could STILL forgive The Clinic, logic be damned, if it didn’t make such a mess out of Cameron’s subplot. The late Andy Whitfield (he of Spartacus fame) is perfectly fine in the role, but Rabbitts never quite figures out how to make it work. His side story in trying to find Beth is so erratically timed, taking us away from the warehouse at key moments and ultimately frustrating our focus. I suppose the purpose is for Rabbitts to show just how far up the conspiracy (to, you know, steal rich and famous women’s babies) reaches. But it doesn’t go anywhere and when Cameron, I guess, dies in a car accident, I honestly didn’t even quite realize (or care) that his story was over.

More irksome to me was the glaring unanswered question: what about the five other newborns? One would assume all healthy infant children of well-educated or talented women would still fetch a fair price, but The Clinic never addresses that question. Worse, Beth makes a promise to one of the dying women that she will absolutely care for her baby, but during the final coda, we get nary a whisper of the fact that were other children. Sure, it’s a 90 minute movie and I can assume scenes were deleted for pacing issues, but FIVE ORPHANED NEWBORNS is a pretty sizable hole.

High Notes
As someone who can’t tell one baby from the next, I appreciate The Clinic’s assertion that all newborns pretty much look the same

Low Notes
I know life was different in the ‘70s and that Australia still entered the age of reason, but it’s sure hard to get behind a highly pregnant young woman driving cross country and not wearing her seatbelt

Lessons Learned
Cows make outstanding alarm systems

Australian men children sound an awful lot like your overconfident friend doing a lame impression of Christopher Walken

Just because you had an unwanted C-section 2 hours ago is no reason not to be able to climb fences, flee dingoes, or fight elite athletes in hand-to-hand combat

The Clinic is a frustrating film in terms of its storytelling, but as an independent horror movie coming from a first-time director, it’s not half bad. The actors all equip themselves admirably and the tension is raised with each scene. The film’s problems come from its scattered plotting, but for a 90 minute dark ride, it’s well worth a stream on Netflix. Just leave your brain at the hotel.


  1. Well, I had to skip down, but I suppose this one might be worth a view. For some reason a decent, low-budget horror flick can be a fun watch simply because it's nice to check your brain at the door every so often.

    Also, I find knowing that a plot is pretty messy beforehand tends to make it easier to deal with when I watch a movie such as this, so I might give it a whirl on a lonely afternoon!

  2. Matt, I think you should definitely give the film a try. Rabbitts is definitely going to be an interesting genre filmmaker. In this case, he just gets a little too ambitious and confused when writing his script. I think if you sit back with lowered expectations you'll have a good time. It's certainly a CREATIVE story...it's just a little insane.