Reviewbr> “Evolution's a bitch!” - Beth
The heavily pregnant Beth and her finance Cameron are crossing the Aussie outback to spend Christmas with Beth's mother. They decide to stop for the night in an out of the way motel that I was surprised to see wasn't called “Bates”. That night Cameron is unable to sleep and leaving Beth snoozing he heads into town looking for a feed. Naturally his car runs out of petrol and nothing is open. He eventually makes it back to the motel only to discover Beth has vanished into thin air.
I assume it's the next day when Beth wakes in a bathtub fill of ice. Making matters worse she has been the recipient of a c-section the night before and her baby is missing. Beth quickly discovers she is in an abattoir of all places. Making her escape she soon finds she isn't alone. Four other young mothers are missing their babies, an apparent psycho is on the loose, and someone is watching. Can Beth stay alive long enough to get her baby back?
It seems I've been waiting years for The Clinic to be released, which is probably more to do with how long I've been following news releases about the movie, rather than the shooting schedule. Finally, without any fanfare, the movie has arrived on DVD hire, so was the wait worth it?
Slight digression before continuing, my local DVD place got both The Loved Ones and The Clinic in on the same day a couple of weeks ago. Dude that runs the store is a supporter of downunder dark genre movies. Interestingly The Loved Ones has been hired once in that time, by myself for review, whereas The Clinic has been heavily hired with the two copies of the movie being constantly booked. Which goes to show that gorenography is still a hard sell in Oz, but strangely gets cash from the film finance people, whereas the punters will hit a locally made horror flick that doesn't come with a cheer squad if the premise looks solid. Discerning DVD patrons in this part of the world yo!
The Clinic is set in 1979 and looks like it was shoot in the 1970s, at the height of ozploitation. There's that whole feeling to things that would readily have you believe the crew from say Razorback finished that movie and then started shooting The Clinic. And no I'm not just talking T&A here, it's the whole look and feel. Director/Writer Rabbits has gone retro on us and it's working like a brought one. Of course this may not work for those who have an issue with the whole ozploitation thing, but then they should frack off to the foreign movie section and leave the rest of us in peace.
There's a few issues with The Clinic that may have you scratching your head and wondering if Rabbits didn't need some more input on the original script. The Abattoir, wonderful and ominous location for the majority of the movie, is meant to be abandoned. If so why are there pens fill of cattle? It might be the weekend, in which case where are the folks feeding and watering the cattle? I've worked in what we call "freezing works" back home and you simply don't leave cattle, or other live stock, penned without checking them for any length of time. Of course that's a minor quibble, but really abandoned abattoir? - however this pales in comparison to the stretch of imagination Rabbits asks you to take with the coincidences in the final block of the movie. I can stretch things when required in a decent horror flick, but come on this is really calling the friendship into question!
Okay so besides the odd plot issue, and hey have you ever seen a horror flick without the odd blemish in that regard, Rabbits is delivering one hell of a horror ride that sort of works like a grab bag of things to get you feeling uneasy. Besides the whole c-section thing, and that's pretty nasty when you think about it, there's what appears to be a deranged killer on the loose, vicious dogs, whoever is watching our gradually declining number of moms, and of course the requisite mentally challenged dude that backwoods movies tend to have. Rabbits has his bases covered when it comes to getting things juiced on the dark genre front and doesn't pull back on going down different paths to keep things rocking along.
One of the things I really dug about the movie is that we pretty much have an all female cast, makes a change from dudes making stupid decisions or being all macho and shite. The guy who we all think is going to resolve things is about as much good as Ridley Scott's Dallas when the metal hits the flesh, and it's up to Beth and her new found friends to work things out and survive till they can strike back in some form or other. Trying to be purposely vague here to avoid spoilers. Tabrett Bethell (Beth) leads a female cast that is up for the job, and I was sweating on every decision with them. Ultimately the game isn't what we think it is and Beth has the necessary hardness to get through to face the final disclosures. It's great stuff and I had my fingers crossed that Beth would make it to the final credits.
There is a tad of gore in the movie, death by scalpel is never going to be pleasant, especially when the only identification as to which baby is which is hidden within the sewn up c-section of each new mom. I leave it to the reader to decide how that's going to pan out, but Rabbits does keep a handle on things and doesn't allow the gore to destroy a fairly tense movie he has been building. As stated previously, some nasty ideas floating around in this movie for the Audience to pick up on.
I was impressed with Rabbits behind the camera, he has the whole 1970s thing happening for him, and has each scene on a leash. Overall The Clinic is well constructed with the attention to detail ensuring we don't suddenly find ourselves outside the movie's time frame.
Good old fashion ozploitation flick, two thumbs up, and recommended to audiences. Rabbits doesn't rely on gore or torture, but manages to present a movie simply brimming with intent and intelligence. The ending was slightly naff, too many coincidences for mine, but what the heck as a first movie it demonstrates a Director/Writer that knows exactly what tiger he has by the tail. Go grab a screening of the movie, you are going to have yourself a good time.
ScaryMinds Rates this movie as ...br> br> Ozploitation is alive and well in this excellent thriller by James Rabbits