The opening caption ‘Based on true events’ seems to be de rigeur for many a horror film these days, and it’s all present and correct at the beginning of THE CLINIC, but don’t let that put you off what is actually another pretty decent little Australian horror picture.
It’s another film that, like LITTLE DEATHS, I picked up on a whim (this time for £3 at HMV), and was subsequently delighted to discover that it’s actually rather good.
In 1979, (a time before DNA testing, we are rather ominously told at the beginning) a young couple, Cameron and heavily pregnant Beth, are travelling across Australia to visit Beth’s parents for Christmas. They stop for the night at the kind of motel one should never stop at in this kind of film, and Cameron does the stupid movie thing of popping out for some food in the middle of the night, only for his car to run out of petrol. By the time he gets back Beth is gone and no-one admits to her ever having existed.
Meanwhile Beth has woken up naked in a bath full of ice. Her baby is gone and all she has to show for it is a lower midline incision in her abdomen. She pulls on some clothes and goes wandering around what looks like the abandoned meat processing plant she has been brought to and is now a prisoner in. She eventually discovers four other women, all with identical scars, all of whom have just been deprived of their babies under mysterious circumstances.
Where things take a turn for the fun and horrible is when the women discover the babies alive and well but locked in cages. There is nothing to identify them save a coloured marker. It transpires that the mother of each child has a corresponding marker inside them that was put there at the time the baby was removed. It then becomes a question of how far is each mother prepared to go to discover which baby is her child, and the film quickly becomes a trial of survival of the fittest as the women begin to stalk each other.
What’s extra good about THE CLINIC is that it doesn’t stop there. Once we discover the reason for all this there’s a great twist and an appropriately blood-drenched climax that makes what has gone before all the more worthwhile for sticking with. Nicely directed with some good performances and makeup effects, THE CLINIC is the kind of understated-but-gory and well thought through low budget horror film that we could do with a lot more of. Kudos to all involved here, but especially first time writer-director James Rabbitts who, like John V Soto who did NEEDLE (also reviewed on here) is another Australian horror director who will hopefully go on to even greater things. Another little gem that’s out there at the moment for minimal cash outlay.