Sunday, 9 October 2011

The Clinic review

The first shock in this movie comes at the very beginning, and it has nothing to do with the movie itself. No, it is the sight of the wonderful Andy Whitfield in the male lead role that was a bit of a jolt, and just served to bring how much he’ll be missed in the role of Spartacus.
Anyway, on with the movie!
The story starts on Christmas Eve 1979 in the Australian desert, which is another jolt for those of us used to freezing cold snow and bitter winds at that time of year. So we join a young couple as they head across country for the holidays. Stopping off at a cheap motel for the night, things start to go bad when Cameron (Whitfield) finds his pregnant fiancée Beth (Tabrett Bethell) has gone missing.
So far so horror movie. But this movie quickly sends the viewer in a different direction than the one the viewer may be expecting from the set-up. While we see some of Whitfield doing the strong husband act and trying to find out what has happened to his wife (really Australians – do you really dislike your country cousins that much? Or is every remote Australian town inhabited exclusively by sinister weirdoes?), this is very much Bethell’s movie. 

And, I should warn you, it is a grim one. She wakes up in a bath full of ice to find that her baby has been removed and we follow her as she and a group of other women who have had the same thing happen to them try to find out just what the hell has happened to them while they are being staked through the clinic by a mysterious figure...
The story itself has a nice (nice is not the word really, but you know what I mean!) old school horror story feel to it. To me it has the atmosphere of one of the novels of Richard Laymon. If you are unfamiliar with his work, I suggest you check him out, he really is one of the unsung masters of the horror genre.
To me true horror, as I am sure I have said here before, is where people are doing bad things to other people. I find supernatural horror to be much less scary than ‘real’ horror. And that is not to say that movies like Hostel, Saw 58 and the like are scary. They are not. There is a difference between meanness and gore and scaring people.
And there are scares in this. There is a touch of the Saws about it in places, but this is not a torture-porn gorefest, although there is some gore in there.
No, there is an actual story going on here, and while I was a bit annoyed at a brief flirtation with a possible supernatural element, this was explained well in a rather nice twist. Yes, the twist does require the viewer to swallow a gigantic coincidence or two, but that’s okay.
And pleasingly for a modern horror movie, after all the darkness and death and misery, it was nice to have a genre movie that ends on a note that could be interpreted as hope for a change!
The Clinic is released on DVD by Universal on 17th October.

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