Clinical (2017): Twist and Shout (Review)

Promotional poster for Clinical

Directed and co-written by Alistair Legrand (the other writer on the film was Luke Harvis) Clinical is an effective combination of the thriller and horror genres. This is Legrand’s second film and it offers up enough twists and turns to keep the viewer guessing right up until the final reveal.

It could be called a “twist and shout”  movie as there are enough false leads and surprising turns to keep the most astute viewer on their toes. There are hints that things are not necessarily what they appear to be but not until later and not until we have been sucked into the good doctor’s world.

Vinessa Shaw is Dr. Jane Mathis; a psychiatrist who is attacked by a former patient who then slits her own throat. The doctor has scars from the attack, both mental and physical, but she continues to help other patients as she recovers. 

The patient who slashed her with a broken bit of glass is Nora (played with creepy, and damned scary, conviction by India Eisley) who ends up in a mental hospital for the criminally insane. Jane, who has started treating  new patient; Alex (Lethal Weapon‘s Kevin Rahm) a man horribly disfigured by an auto accident, starts seeing Nora everywhere. 

As the film progresses things take a severe shift into another direction. We now question Jane’s version of events  and indeed wonder if anything seen to this point is actually real.

Some of the effects are quite horrific; one scene with Rahm’s character’s face is very nearly nightmarish, and while the plot may not be clear enough for some to follow, Legrand manages to keep things moving well enough to entertain.

Rahm is brilliant as the mystery patient and Eisley is disturbing as the mentally tortured kid who “haunts’ Jane. Shaw makes the transitions required to tell the story convincingly and helps to move the tale along with its many twists and turns.

William Atherton has a small role as Terry; Jane’s therapist. The actor is best known for his role in the first two Die Hard films as that reporter. Character actor Nestor Serrano is spot on as the antagonistic and despicable psychiatrist who “treats” both Nora and Jane.

Aaron Stanford, who worked with Vinessa on The Hills Have Eyes remake has little screen time as Miles, Jane’s cop boyfriend. It is nice, however, to see the two in another project together. 

Clinical is now available on Netflix either to stream or to download and watch later offline. This is a cracking film. It earns a solid 4 stars for having enough mystery to keep one guessing until the final reveal.

Come Out and Play (2012) Mexican Somnambulistic Scares

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We all have a picture of life south of the border, Mexico has always evoked images of fiestas and siestas, one meaning to party hardy and the other to have an afternoon nap because of said partying. Things are slower and more relaxed in Me-he-co amigo. So is this little horror film from south of the border.

It features a film that moves so slowly it feels a bit like sleep walking. Sleep walking that leads you straight into a Village of the Damned cum Children of the Corn type nightmare. Oozing an atmosphere that feels like molasses trickling down a table leg, Come Out and Play is a film you can’t hurry along.

Written and directed by Makinov  and based on a novel by Juan José Plans, Come Out and Play is the first feature film by Makinov and it combines the slowness of an old ballad with the discord of a one legged dancer.

Starring Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Vinessa Shaw, and Daniel Giménez Cacho; whom I’d just seen in  Mel Gibson‘s Get the Gringo play the three main protagonists in the film, although Cacho isn’t in the film nearly long enough.

The film opens with Francis (Moss-Bachrach) wandering through Mexican streets during carnival asking for directions. He is trying to rent a boat so he and his heavily pregnant wife Beth (Shaw) can get to an island village that is famous for its carnivals. After securing the boat, Francis and Beth go down to the marina and head to the island.

When they arrive there are a group of boys lining the dock fishing. All of them seem to be friendly and help to tie up the boat and help the couple to bring their bags on the dock. Only one boy isn’t friendly and despite Francis’ best attempts, he doesn’t respond to his kindness. The couple then make their way into the village and it’s seemingly deserted.

The three protagonists.
The three protagonists.

When they find a cafe, it looks like everyone has left in a hurry, leaving half empty glasses on tables. There is a “ham” radio on the wall that keeps intermittently broadcasting a woman who sounds distressed. Since Beth is tired, Francis decides to go and find some people.

From the moment that Francis and his wife land on the island, the atmosphere of the film screams, “Wrong!” Everything seems off and eerie. The place is completely deserted and you know that if you were there, you’d run right straight back to the boat, get in, take off and never come back.

Of course the young couple cannot do that as there would then be no film. It is explained through their dialogue that these two are world travellers and that not too much spooks them. Too bad, it seems that travelling around the world dulls your “Spidey-senses.” They eventually find out what has happened on the island and it’s not good.

If you are expecting a “jump-scare” movie or one that throws horror at you in a violent manner, this is not the film for you. Come Out and Play builds an almost unbearable tension from the moment these two arrive at the island. Despite the slow pace of this film, I could not tear my eyes away from the snail like events on the screen. Although I did “second-guess” the ending, it still made sense and to be fair the director did signpost it very well.

I’d give this little gem a 4 out of 5 just for the slow moving creepy atmosphere of the village on the little island and for leading me twice to the wrong conclusion on how it would end; before I finally paid attention to the signs that the director so helpfully put in place.

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