The Clinic so wishes it were a horror movie from the 70s, it's set in the 70s. But a 70s setting does not a 70s horror movie make.
It begins on an open highway in the Australian Outback. The year is 1979 and handsome Cameron (Andy Whitfield) and pretty Beth (Tabrett Bethell) decide to pull over and rest overnight at a lonely motel. Needless to say, the clerk is a creepy perv. He ogles Cameron's pregnant wife unabashedly as the young man checks in, remarking appreciatively on her "tits" (which are, in actuality, not "spectacular" and not "real" — Teri Hatcher's still got the corner on that market).
It's like Psycho meets Hostel when, a few minutes later, after leaving the leerer's lobby and while sunning themselves poolside, the couple is assessed from afar by a strange foreign woman who's obviously on the hunt for something. Cut to the morning, when the couple finds themselves inexplicably severed — she's missing and he's arrested in connection with her disappearance.
Beth is actually being held in "the clinic" where she is given a forced C-section and dreams deliriously of babies, blood and digits. She's soon met by other suddenly childless mothers, and they join forces to flee the fatal fetal facility before Dr. Feel-bad can come back and finish whatever operation it is he started. Meanwhile, Cameron is trying to get free too, so he can find out what really happened to Beth. There's lots of talking, arguing, running around in dark corridors and other stuff before the movie finally finishes.
The idea for The Clinic isn't bad, but it's poorly executed in that the characters make the dumbest choices imaginable. I don't mind dumb characters in horror movies, but The Clinic's brainy concept (streamlined eugenic selection, along the lines of Hitler's proposed Master Race) rather requires a smarter script. This isn't a Friday the 13th flick. There's an awful lot of pointless whining from the victims, yet they are stunningly spry and agile, even with weeping surgical wounds (all of which match perfectly across every barren belly). When it comes to the scare and gore factors, there isn't much of either for the genre fan — again, I don't mind of lack of the red stuff, but when a movie is so bloodless in all ways, it's missed.
The cinematography and locations are nice and while the 70s effort is apparent, there's something just a little off about the approximation (they should have brought Anna Biller in to consult!). The acting is fine, but fallow. The score isn't vintage era at all, and neither is the costuming.
While it's not exactly stillborn, The Clinic is a relatively average thriller.
= = =
Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson