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The Clinic (2010)
DVD Released: 8/9/2011
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 8/13/2011
I've been watching horror movies for a long, long time and I don't consider myself to be squeamish or sensitive. I'm rarely bothered by any subject matter in movies, and I guess that you could call me jaded. Having said that, I don't approve of movies which use children, especially babies, in jeopardy in order to create tension. This often comes across as cheap and tasteless -- what's the point of having a defenseless baby be in danger? Unless a truly valid reason is given for this occurring, it feels like a cop-out by the filmmakers. Babies in trouble is just one of the many problems exhibited in The Clinic.
The Clinic is set in 1979 and opens with Cameron (Andy Whitfield) and his very pregnant fiancee Beth (Tabrett Bethel) traveling through rural Australia to see her family. When they are run off the road by an ancient ambulance, they decide to stop for the night at a questionable motel. Cameron awakens the next morning to find Beth missing. He questions the creepy innkeeper and alerts the police, but gets no help. Meanwhile, Beth awakens in a bathtub filled with ice to find that her baby has been removed and the incision crudely stitched. She begins to explore and finds that she's in a huge industrial facility. Beth soon learns that she's not the only woman there, but there's seemingly no way out. As the women seek freedom, Cameron continues his search.
The Clinic plays like a mishmash of genres. The opening, where the couple must stop at the dangerous motel, is like something out ofVacancy. Then, it morphs into a missing person movie like The Vanishing. However, the tone suddenly shifts and the remainder of the movie feels like a women in prison movie -- the kind of thing which would have come from Roger Corman's company in the 70s. Throw in babies in cages and this is like a greatest hits of exploitation movies.
The problem is that none of these pieces work, most notably the women's prison parts. The film's opening feels very familiar, but it's mildly interesting, as is the brief segment in which we see Cameron searching for Beth. But, once the focus shifts to the facility where Beth is being held, the movie slows to a crawl. We watch Beth and the other women (Freya Stafford, Clare Bowen, Sophie Lowe) wander around the place, sort of looking for a way out. Writer/Director James Rabbitts attempts to give the movie some style by having the women wear pajamas which have Roman numerals, but this just makes them hard to distinguish from one another. They quickly compare notes and figure out what is happening, and yet their attempts to solve the problem seem half-hearted at best. The movie really gets loopy (but not in the good way) when someone starts stalking the women.
Rabbitts clearly wants to put a new twist on several genres, especially the organ harvesting movie, which here become the baby harvesting movie, but his ideas aren't fully formed and the pacing is atrocious. We don't know enough about any of the characters to care about why they are wandering around, which creates little suspense or tension. The "comeuppance" at the end is nicely done and worth of any 80s action movie, but the twist ending which proceeds it makes what it is already a lackluster film implode. This twist is not only highly improbable, it's also completely unnecessary. It's the kind of thing which thinks it's clever, but it truly isn't. The Clinic has some good ideas, but they could have used some more time in the womb.
The Clinic has more cows than scares on DVD courtesy of Image Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is sharp and clear, showing only mild grain at times and no defects from the source material. The colors have been purposely diluted, as evidenced by the colorful coda, but they look fine and the image is never overly dark or bright. Mild artifacting is present, but it's not distracting. The DVD has a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are nicely done and add a sense of presence to the abandoned buildings. The same goes for the surround sound effects, which are also present in the action scenes. The finale and a car wreck provide some subwoofer effects.
The only extra on The Clinic DVD is a TRAILER for the film.
Review Copyright 2011 by Mike Long