★★★1/2 out of ★★★★★
🩸🩸🩸 out of 🩸🩸🩸🩸🩸 for violent acts (no spoilers here) and squirm-inducing pregnancy-related horror images
Directed by Alexis Jacknow
Horror films about pregnancy anxiety — whether during, immediately after, and even before pregnancy — are a reliable, and to many a relatable, subgenre. The latest offering in this category is writer/director Alexis Jacknow’s Clock, which deals with the latter stage, as a woman who has never wanted children considers caving in to peer pressure about becoming a mother.
Ella Patel (Dianna Agron) is a successful designer on the verge of landing a huge, life-changing project. She is in a happy marriage with Aidan (Jay Ali), who has long known about her lack of desire in having children. Her friends who are either pregnant or already have children insist that she is missing out, as does her father.
Ella secretly caves in, blowing off an interview that would have perhaps secured her a dream job to instead secretly attend a clinical trial for women who, like Ella, lack the desire to become mothers. Dr. Elizabeth Simmons (Melora Hardin) heads up the project and insists that what she considers to be Ella’s “broken” biological clock can be fixed.
The premise is an intriguing one, and Jacknow serves up some wickedly chilling pregnancy nightmare set pieces. Agron is terrific as a conflicted woman who goes from being in control of her life to one who finds herself going down a dark, turbulent path.
Clock falls somewhat short, though, as it traverses rather familiar territory in the pregnancy horror subgenre. It does play nicely with a few different twists on tropes but seasoned fear-fare viewers will find much of the storyline and imagery quite familiar. Also, the characters follow well-known beats, and some viewers are bound to take issue with the climax.
Back to the film’s strong points, these also include its commentaries on womanhood, motherhood, and family traditions. Jacknow provides keen, razor-sharp observations on these elements through a horror lens that includes some not-for-the-squeamish images.
Overall, Clock is a well-constructed, great-looking, entertaining watch that shows Jacknow is a highly talented writer and director. She is definitely a filmmaker to keep an eye on.
Review by Joseph Perry
Clock screened as part of Overlook Film Festival, which took place March 30–April 2 2023 in New Orleans.
Clock premieres on Hulu on April 28, 2023.
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