There’s Only One Reason to Check Into The Clinic
Normally, I’m not a fan of “sword and sandal” epics. I liked neither Gladiator nor 300. However, earlier this year, I discovered the Starz television series, Spartacus, and became hopelessly addicted. One of the reasons was its charismatic star, Andy Whitfield. Soon after the first season concluded, the Welsh-Australian actor was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, to which he succumbed a year and a half later. (The series was later recast with a replacement, Liam McIntyre.)
Even though watching Whitfield now makes my heart ache for such a loss of young talent, I am nevertheless compelled to find any of his previous onscreen appearances. One such effort is the 2010 thriller, The Clinic. He’s the male lead in this one; however, the movie is really about the women, so his character takes a back seat in the story. If you are also a fan of Spartacus and want to see more of Whitfield, you must watch The Clinic. But he’s the only reason I would recommend it.
The Clinic takes place in 1979, and makes a point of telling us that it’s six years prior to the advent of DNA testing. I’m not sure why that’s an important fact. Although it hints at a possible sci-fi theme, it ultimately has nothing to do with the story. Instead, it’s a twist on the urban legend of waking up in a bathtub full of ice to discover your organs have been harvested. In this case, it is Whitfield’s fiancée, unwed mother-to-be (Tabrett Bethell), who wakes up in a tub to learn that her baby has been removed.
The setup in The Clinic is intriguing, with hints of previous thrillers, Duel, Joyride and Vacancy. After barely escaping an accident on the highway, Cameron (Whitfield) and Beth (Bethell) stop at a small town motel. When Beth goes missing in the middle of the night, Cameron begins a frantic search for her, encountering various police and townsfolk, none of whose motives are entirely clear. So far, so good, right? That is until Cameron sort of disappears from the story and the focus switches to Beth.
She is being held at a large, seemingly abandoned facility, with several other women who are also victims of this heinous crime. Things get a little murky here, as they locate their babies, but don’t know whose is whose. There’s something about colored locks or tags that correspond to locks or tags left inside the mothers’ wombs. To find their own babies, they have to dig these locks or tags out of their own bodies. This plot device creates some cringe-worthy gore, but makes little sense.
Making even less sense is a possible conspiracy subplot. But at least it engages the brain, lulled into hibernation by a lot of running around in dark hallways. Then, there may be someone killing the women one by one… It sounds ambitious, but the pieces don’t really fit together in a believable way. As many balls as The Clinic juggles, there’s no ultimate payoff, just a typical ending utilizing one of the oldest horror/suspense movie clichés that there is.
All in all, The Clinic is not the memory of Andy Whitfield I’d like to have occupying my mind. There’s one other chance, though. His first movie is called Gabriel (2007), which IMDb categorizes as a Action-Fantasy-Horror-Thriller. It’s about “an archangel who fights to bring light back to purgatory”. Like The Clinic, it sounds reminiscent of other movies (and TV shows: Supernatural); however, he plays Gabriel, so I assume he’ll have more screen time. And that would be a plus for ANY movie.