The Clinic (2010)
★★★ / ★★★★
Cameron (Andy Whitfield) and Beth (Tabrett Bethell), an expecting couple, decide to get a motel room in the middle of the Australian outback en route to visit Beth’s mother for Christmas. In middle of the night, Beth sleeping soundly, Cameron looks for food places around the area. When he returns, however, his fiancée is nowhere to be found. Meanwhile, Beth, naked and covered in ice, wakes up in a bathtub and no longer pregnant. Someone has performed a cesarian on her. Within a few feet is a chair and a bathrobe with “DCVIII” stitched on it.
Written and directed by James Rabbitts, “The Clinic” is an effectively creepy horror-thriller with several genuinely creative ideas and so it does not have to rely on gore to keep its audience engaged. The abattoir is an excellent choice of setting in that it is a place where animals are sent to be killed. Every room, when not completely dark, is given appropriate lighting, enough to overlook hidden horrors only to be revealed upon closer inspection. The rooms filled with hooks and chains are equally threatening as the rooms with nothing but a table and baby formulas on top of it. There are plenty of moments when I caught myself wishing a character would slow down and consider if a certain area has traps.
It is apparent that this is a sort of game to someone. At times it is almost too easy and too convenient to have clues out in the open which made me feel more anxious. Beth learns eventually that she is not the only woman who is kidnapped and mutilated. There are three others (Freya Stafford, Clare Bowen, Sophie Lowe) who wish to get some answers as to why they are taken and what has happened to their babies. When they scour the various areas of the slaughterhouse, there is not a dull moment because there is constantly a new danger to be faced, from their own fears and limitations to secrets of the compound.
I suppose the film can be criticized for a lack of common sense considering that the fence surrounding the slaughterhouse could have been overcome if the women had taken the time to look around and find weapons strong enough to cut through the metal. Personally, I would have decided to climb the fence barefoot–for grasp and better balance–after finding several cloths and rags for the barbed wire above. But then again what woman, having just gotten a C-section, can climb a tall fence? What made me overlook the relatively easy solutions is the writer-director’s focus in creating good situational horror after the characters decide to abandon the idea of escape.
What does the Roman numerals on their robes mean? When or if they find their babies and/or captor(s), what then? Less effective are the scenes involving the men. While I liked Whitfield’s presence and levels of intensity he brings to the table, he isn’t given much to do other than to portray a guy intent on finding his fiancée. Further, the motel attendant (Boris Brkic) and the cop (Marshall Underwood) are uninspired stereotypes. They seem like they are plucked off from less ambitious slasher flicks and it becomes a bore to watch them go through the motions. I couldn’t wait for the camera to turn its attention back on the women to watch what they are willing to go through to finally hold their newborns in their arms.