THE CLINIC (2010) Review


Directed by James Rabbitts
Written by James Rabbitts
Starring Tabrett Bethell, Freya Stafford and Andy Whitfield

I have to admit, I wasn’t expecting much going into this film. I hadn’t heard anything about it and the cover of the DVD, reminiscent of INSIDE, didn’t seem like it was very inspired. So color me shocked when I witnessed a really engrossing thriller unfold before me with not only a gripping premise, but fantastic performances to boot. THE CLINIC is one of those under-the-radar films you’re sure to stumble across on cable and wonder why you hadn’t heard of it before. Well, consider yourself warned because THE CLINIC is a film in need of being seen.

Cameron (SPARTACUS’ Andy Whitfield) and Beth (Tabrett Bethell) look to be a perfect couple, about to be married and expecting their first baby. When their car is run off the road by a frantic trucker, they decide to call it a night and find the nearest motel. When Cameron decides to go out for a midnight snack, he returns to find his wife missing. Beth wakes up in a tub of ice with a scar on her belly and her baby missing. One would think, given Whitfield’s star status from SPARTACUS, he’d be given the brunt of the action, but it’s Beth who has the most interesting arc here as she desperately searches for her baby. Encountering a pair of other mothers with similar scars, Beth finds her baby along with the others locked in cages. What unfolds is a twisted reality contest. Each baby has a colored tag. Sewn inside of each mother is a tag matching the one on one of the babies’ foot. And there’s a mother out there who is willing to slice open the rest of the mothers to find out which baby is hers.

The premise is simply badass, right?

With a mother stalking the rest, all of the mothers’ maternal instincts kick in to fight for their babies lives. What I thought would be a by the numbers medical thriller turned out to be so much more. I won’t reveal anything else, but THE CLINIC pulls no punches and offers up characters you actually care for. Writer/director James Babbitts shows skill with the camera with gritty scenes of action along with surreal and unsettling fever dreams of the mother of a baby in a pool of blood. Not to be missed, THE CLINIC is so much more than one would expect.

THE INTERROGATION (2011) Review


Directed by Kevin Edward Epperson
Written by Kevin Edward Epperson
Starring Nick Bender, Arch Harmon, Dave Mills, Derek “Pretty Boy” Dow and introducing Kayli Fawbush
Find out when and where you can see THE INTERROGATION on the film’s Facebook Page here!

I was blown away with this little indie film from my home town of Chicago. THE INTERROGATION focuses mainly on a young man accused of a crime and being held in a holding room of sorts. Soon a game of cat and mouse is being played between the interrogator and the interrogatee. Throughout this film, I found myself flip flopping numerous times about who is the real victim of this story. In the end, my suspicions were correct, but the ride to get to the conclusion of this film was definitely an impressive one.

Director / writer Kevin Edward Epperson sets the stage well in this story that takes place in just a few locations. Epperson writes some crisp dialog and does a great job at manipulating the viewer in multiple directions with plays on words and flip flopping perspectives. The accused Charlie played by Nick Bender does a decent job with his performance which requires quite a bit of range. Bender does a decent job in this story, though at times the script requires beats that are a bit out of his range. Bender does do a truly impressive job when his character takes a turn for the creep though. Jennings, the interrogator (played by Arch Harmon) is much more comfortable in his role and delivers a powerfully chilling performance. In the end, though, Epperson’s script is the star of this film.

This is a film that is guaranteed to make you squirm. The subject of child molestation is always one to irk folks. I have to admit there were moments when I felt unease at what was going on. But the thing is, nothing is shown on camera. To Epperson’s credit, he never shows us the despicable acts Charlie is accused of. It’s all in the script and performances. It’s a true testament of good filmmaker to make the viewer feel something about nothing. THE INTERROGATION takes us to dark corners without showing us what’s hidden in that darkness. Eppseron shows true potential as a filmmaker in both the way this film was made and written.

CROPSEY (2009) Review


Directed by Joshua Zeman & Barbara Brancaccio
Written by Joshua Zeman

It’s been labeled as a real life BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, which isn’t particularly accurate, but CROPSEY does induce chills, mainly because it is a documentary and not an actual horror film. There’s something comfortable watching a horror film, knowing that, even if it is labeled a found footage film, you know, in the back of your mind, that it’s not real. You don’t have that feeling with CROPSEY which is what makes it such a riveting and suspenseful film.

CROPSEY follows filmmakers Barbara Brancaccio and Joshua Zeman, two life-long residents of Staten Island who recall the urban legend of a child killer named Cropsey, told to children in order to get them to stay close to home and eat all of their vegetables. The film follows the two investigators as they interview Staten Island residents, dig through old newspapers and archives, and explore the thick wooded forests in the middle of the island which used to house a tuberculosis and mental hospital, now in ruins. CROPSEY gives a pretty powerful account of the events leading up to the abduction of a handful of Staten Island children who go missing in the very area they were warned was haunted by the evil Cropsey. The filmmakers explore the idea this may be a case of life imitating myth and builds a pretty solid case against a single homeless man who has been serving time for the abductions, Andre Rand.

The film is at its best when it sticks to fact. The story of Andre Rand and his connection with the missing children is both the stuff of nightmares and makes for such an interesting story. The multiple photos of the man wide-eyed and drooling are enough to implicate him of some kind of mental illness. The facts are presented in a fashion that makes one doubt it’s not a work of fiction, with so much stacked against the bizarre Rand, but just as many shady hypothesis making one doubt that he was working alone or even did it at all. If anything, the film provides too much of an objective view, making me ask more questions and feeling more than a little unfulfilled by the end. Then again, it’s just a fraction of the feeling the relatives and friends of the children probably feel in this as yet, unsolved case.

I know it was probably marketing who tagged the BLAIR WITCH stuff to this film, but to be honest, the nighttime investigation is in only a small portion of the film and is by far the least compelling part of the film. Sure trouncing through the ruins with a flashlight and a camera is scary (proven so in the aforementioned BLAIR WITCH PROJECT and countless GHOST HUNTER TV series), but this was the point of the film that showed the filmmakers hand the most as trying to add something dramatic with a payoff that amounts to nothing. I kind of wished they wouldn’t have even included that scene because it cheapens an otherwise engrossing documentary of the crossroads between frightening fiction and nightmarish fact. CROPSEY is a fantastic documentary about some horrific crimes, but is a bit guilty of manipulating the audience on the side of cinema not factual information in a few well commercialized moments.