The Clinic (2010) poster

The Clinic (2010)


Australia. 2010.


Director/Screenplay – James Rabbitts, Producer – Samuel Pinczewski, Photography – Brad Shield, Music – Jason Fernandez, Kirke Godfrey & Angela Little, Visual Effects – Fuel (Supervisor – Dave Morley), Special Effects – Aaron Cox, Dan Oliver & Tim Riach, Production Design – Nicholas McCallum. Production Company – Bob Marcs/Great Southern Land Entertainment/RMB Productions.


Tabrett Bethell (Beth Church), Andy Whitfield (Cameron Marshall), Freya Stafford (Veronica), Clare Bowen (Ivy), Marshall Napier (Marvin), Liz Alexander (Ms Shepard), Boris Brkic (Hank), Marcel Bracks (Duncan), Sophie Lowe (Allison), Adrienne Pickering (Jane Doe), Slava Orel (Russian Man), Inga Romanostova (Russian Woman), Harold Hopkins (Grave Digger)


Christmas Eve, 1979. Cameron and his pregnant fiancee Beth are driving across the Australian Outback to join her mother for Christmas. They stop at a motel in the middle of nowhere for the night. Cameron drives off to look for some food but Beth is missing when he returns. She wakes up in a facility on a cattle farm to find that her baby has been surgically removed. She finds four other girls in the complex that have similarly all had their babies removed and each of them left with a robe that has a Roman numeral on it. All of the babies are found placed in locked cribs and can only be identified by coloured tags. It is then discovered that a corresponding coloured chip has been sewn inside each girl’s stomach. Beth and the other girls then find that someone is hunting and killing each of them to remove the coloured chips. At the same time, Cameron clashes with local law enforcement and the motel owner who seem to be covering up Beth’s disappearance.

The Clinic was the debut (and so far only) feature film from Australian writer-director James Rabbitts.

I must admit to being suckered by The Clinic‘s initial announcement that it is based on a true story. No details are given about the incident that occurred, which is something that one has learned to be dubious about – if filmmakers make the claim but don’t back it up with sources then you are unable to go and determine whether this actually happened or the film is only vaguely based on some urban legend the writer heard had supposedly happened to a friend of a friend’s second cousin while he was drinking in a bar. (See Films That Make Dubious Claims to Be Based on True Stories).

The way that The Clinic starts in with the abduction of Tabrett Bethell, you expect it and its Outback setting to slot into the same vein as classic Australian desert thrillers such as Roadgames (1981) or Kiss or Kill (1997). Or perhaps more so the international hit of Wolf Creek (2005), which was fresh in memory when this was made. However, what becomes apparent as the main thrust of the film kicks in is that we are actually in for a copy of Saw (2004) or one of the films modelled on it with people imprisoned in a facility and having to undergo a gruelling elimination game in order to survive.

Mothers Freya Stafford, Tabrett Bethell and Clare Bowen must fight for their babies in The Clinic (2010)
Mothers (l to r) Freya Stafford, Tabrett Bethell and Clare Bowen must fight for their babies

Once it becomes aware what is going on and the Saw influence, I started to lose interest in The Clinic and switched off it and its bogus true-life claim altogether. The premise lacks any basic plausibility – that some secret organisation would abduct people pregnant women from all walks of life and place them in a facility where, in order to identify and get back their baby back, they are required to kill one another to find chips surgically implanted in each girl’s stomach.

How the mothers surviving gladiatorial games of this type relates in any way to making their babies more prospective candidates for adoption is just one of the fundamental implausibilities of the film. Or why any self-respecting parent would want to touch such a scheme with a forty-foot barge pole. Why couldn’t the organisers just deliver the babies by normal means and give them to the parents? How could such a scheme get by without being detected – surely someone would notice multiple pregnant women going missing every time someone wants to adopt a baby? The basic implausibility of the scenario kills off any claim to be telling a true story.

Trailer here

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