Movie Review: 'The Clinic'


You've no doubt seen a flick or two that has to deal with, let's call it "involuntary body part donation," but odds are you haven't seen the theme explored quite so crazily as it is in James Rabbitt's The Clinic. What starts out like a roadside motel / abduction thriller quickly makes a left turn into gore-geyser territory, and even though the thing gets well and truly ridiculous before it's all over ... you couldn't really say the movie's boring.

Loosely based on actual events (sure) and conveniently set in a time before DNA testing existed, The Clinic is about a group of new mothers who are sliced open, have their infants stolen, and must then navigate through an abandoned warehouse complex in which there resides at least one homicidal maniac. Our heroine is recent arrival Beth (Tabratt Bethell), and we meet her as she and her husband (Andy Whitfield) arrive at a dingy motel. Hubby heads out for a drink, and when he comes back his exceedingly pregnant wife is nowhere to be found. Poor Beth awakens in the aforementioned warehouse, sans baby, where she meets three other women -- all of whom also just received an involuntary C-section.

And if you think the flick sounds crazy-ass already, just wait. That's only the first act. We won't discuss the lumbering "retard," the mysterious ringleader, or the fact that each victim has been implanted with a color-coded plastic tag that is the only way to identify whose baby is whose. For a flick allegedly based on actual events - and these would be some truly evil events - The Clinic sure does play fast and loose with things like logic and restraint. The very idea of "forced C-sections" is, for example, horrific in and of itself. Why Mr. Rabbitts chose to couch this idea in a premise that feels like a fifth-generation Saw sequel is rather curious. But again ... The Clinic sure isn't boring.

Tonally, there are problems. Whereas in most torture, body count, or Saw-style movies, the characters "have it coming" in some small way, in The Clinic we're expected to "enjoy" seeing recently-sliced women who are left scrambling through a warehouse for their stolen newborns. So while The Clinic is partially novel and intermittently icky, it's never really scary. And seriously, by the time the third-act plot contortions start piling up, the movie is just so damn wacky it almost becomes sci-fi. Credit to Rabbitts and his mostly female cast for trying to throw a few new wrinkles into the "captured and abused and (hopefully) avenged" sub-genre, but overall The Clinic is sort of schizophrenic. Too wacky to be sincerely scary, and a bit too grim to be a whole lot of fun. Also it's just plain old bat-shit insane, truth be told.