As a horror fan, I’m heartened by Netflix’s recent efforts to make original horror programming a featured part of their lineup. Outside of old movies (watered down for TV) or AMC’s The Walking Dead, there just isn’t much out there.

It’s been mostly a swing-and-a-miss so far.

That being said, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that, given the overall quality I’m seeing, it’s only a matter of time before Netflix hits a home run.

CLINICAL is not a home run. It’s more of a bloop single. But it does have a nifty opening sequence, and a solid performance by character actor Kevin Rahm, (aka Ted Chaough on AMC’s Mad Men) the main supporting player in the cast.

CLINICAL follows the story of Dr. Jane Mathis (Vinessa Shaw) a psychiatrist who, after a horrific, near-fatal encounter with a patient, attempts to resurrect her career.

Enter Alex, (Kevin Rahm) a disfigured man trying to overcome a tragic event shrouded in mystery when he arrives at Jane’s door seeking her help. Despite her efforts, Alex is reluctant to open himself up and reveal to Jane the mystery of his tragic past, allowing only minimal clues as to what happened to him.

CLINICAL resides in the psychological thriller end of the horror spectrum, where one’s inner demons serve as the mechanism for unleashing real horrors upon the world.

Sadly, this film’s weaknesses are not enough to overcome its strengths. The main character isn’t nearly as interesting as she needs to be, and I found myself not caring all that much about her struggles to normalize after her violent attack in the film’s opening, or her mildly supernatural journey to learn the fate of the patient that both physically and emotionally scarred her.

Kevin Rahm does what he can with the script to add depth and humanity to a character that holds the secrets behind the central mystery of the film, but the mystery itself lacks the depth to rise above only the mildest of interest for the viewer. It’s far too weak of a glue to hold the plot’s pieces together, and the climax is straight out of the Final Girl playbook.

CLINICAL wants desperately to be a Brian DePalma-esque thriller, but its attempts to copy his style and split-screen finesse arrive too little, too late, and too removed to be of much use.

Still, I applaud Netflix for pursuing original horror content.

Sooner, rather than later, I’m confident they’re going to score a big hit.


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