Clinical (Netflix)

Review: Clinical

Netflix has committed to expanding their original content platform, and its has resulted in films as diverse as the dramatic The Fundamentals of Caring, mockumentary Mascots, biopic Barry and teen caper Coin Heist. With CLINICAL, the streaming platform follows up the success of horror I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House with another thriller. 

Psychiatrist Jane Mathis (Vinessa Shaw) is brutally attacked by patient Nora (India Eisley) and seriously wounded. On a path to recovery with her own therapist (William Atherton), Jane decides to take on new trauma patient Alex (Kevin Rahm), a man horribly scarred in an accident. As Jane begins to help him, her own life starts to spiral out of control as the past catches up with her.

Clinical (Netflix)

For the most part, CLINICAL is a measured psychological thriller that carefully chooses its moments of revelation. In the first act, Luke Harvis and Alistair Legrand’s script is all about the horror of the internal mind, as Jane continues to see flashes of Nora in waking and sleeping hours. Director Legrand points his camera at oblique angles, with an unsettling use of wide/fisheye lenses during therapy sessions with Alex.

As Legrand transitions into the final act, the surprises are genuine and numerous, with a jarring change of pace and some comically surreal moments peppering the film’s last third. Unfortunately, it’s also here that the film falls back on the expected, a game of cat and mouse that feels caught between something of the mind and a run-of-the-mill slasher. In fact, it’s fair to say there’s a literal face-off between the two leads, as some silly gore undoes much of the good faith CLINICAL had built up until that point. 

Central to the premise of CLINICAL is the notion of the confrontation technique, a psychiatric approach that involves challenging a person and forcing them to incorporate uncomfortable elements into their being.  The film treats the audience a little like this, drilling us with shocks in the first half before leaving us to accept the inevitable. 

2017 | US | DIR: Alistair Legrand | WRITER: Luke Harvis and Alistair Legrand | CAST: Vinessa Shaw, William Atherton, Aaron Stanford,India Eisley, Kevin Rahm | DISTRIBUTOR: Netflix | RUNNING TIME: 104 minutes | RELEASE DATE: 20 January 2017 (US), 26 January 2017 (AUS) 
  • Melissa

    I feel like the movie made such very little sense upon its “big reveal,” if I’m being honest. The “twist” followed no logical sequence of
    ideas or events to which the audience was made privy during the whole
    lead-up to it. How did Dr.
    Mathis just randomly figure out that “Alex” was Nora’s dad? How was that even a SUBTLE takeaway in the statement made by the doctor to whom she was speaking just seconds before she made that discovery? & what
    exactly were “Alex’s” motives all along? He wanted revenge on Dr. Mathis for doping
    up his daughter on meds that drove her deeper into insanity, causing
    her to bludgeon his face when she recalled that he used to sexually
    abuse her??? and then they BOTH teamed up in an effort to destroy Dr. Mathis? I don’t know if perhaps I missed a key point, or if the movie really just was that poorly executed.

    • Dillinger23

      Spoilers FFS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Aubrey

    am i the only one who thought once she entered the psych ward that she had finally gone off the deep end, creating a story with the people she had in her life to fill in the blanks? the ending scene led me to believe that she created all that violence while in some other state.