Dir. Alexis Jacknow (2023)
A woman undergoes an experimental procedure in an attempt to fix her broken biological clock.
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
Look, let’s all be honest with ourselves: kids kinda suck. Having kids? Even worse. And yet, for some godforsaken reason, the survival of our species depends on people making decisions that aren’t in their own personal best interests and pumping out little snot goblins to pass along our genetic code to future generations. Clock, the directorial debut of filmmaker Alexis Jacknow, takes aim at this part of the human experience from the perspective of someone who doesn’t want children, dissecting the societal attitudes that reject womens’ rights to self and the autonomy of choosing something that goes against the expected norm. Diana Agron (Glee) stars as Ella Patel, an interior designer who has decided, “finally,” to give in to the wishes of her father, her doctor, and seemingly everyone else in the world to reboot her failed biological clock with an experimental procedure performed by the enigmatic Dr. Simmons (Melora Hardin from The Office).
The themes of choice and Judaism are interesting bedfellows, with Patel’s Holocaust-survivor family pushing her into extending her family line despite her lack of desire to do so. She’s an intelligent, driven woman, and she eventually gives in to the expectations placed on her simply due to being worn down by the desires of everyone but herself. I’ve seen a few discussions lately about how woman-oriented horror is focused almost entirely on the act of childbirth in recent years, but it makes sense if you consider it through the same lens that most of the rest of the genre can be dissected, in which it is the world around us that dictates the patterns our movies tend to portray. As torture porn became a response to 9/11, so, too, may childbirth and the process of raising a family become a response to the seemingly out-of-control world around us, where family values have lost their sanctity and every day seems to bring about more bad news than the last. Women are losing rights that have been around since suffrage, and the last four years have made The Handmaid’s Tale seem more like reality than fiction. Is it any wonder that we look to the escapism of horror to push through veiled critiques of societal failings in the same way that the genre has been doing since the beginning of film?
There are, of course, better offerings out there in the “haunted motherhood” subgenre of horror, but Clock gets the job done in a stylized and interesting way. It’s fairly comparable to Hulu’s other motherhood horror film False Positive, though it’s a bit better and less bizarre than that one, focusing more on traditional scare lines and jumpy, hallucinatory scenes of horror. Agron does a fantastic job in her role, vacillating between a desire for children and a desire for freedom from expectations. Hardin, likewise, is excellent, foreboding and freaky in her abject normalcy. Director Alexis Jacknow filmed a Hulu-ready movie that is slick, good-looking, and populated by some creepy visuals.
In a subgenre with classics like Rosemary’s Baby, it’s difficult to make a movie that stands the test of time and reverberates for multiple generations. Clock isn’t that, but it is a fresh, chilling story that hasn’t been done quite this way before. I was genuinely shocked by the ending, which I can tell you happens rarely to never in horror, and while Clock may not be the next successor to Polanski’s classic (and the comparison is perhaps not apt because of the wildly different thematic elements), it is a worthwhile film that is definitely one I will be recommending to any woman that I know that has a Hulu account.
Who this movie is for: Female horror fans, Modern social horror lovers, People who have chosen to be childfree
Bottom line: It doesn’t hit on all cylinders, but it’s pretty damn close for what it is. Clock is one of the better recent horrors from Hulu, a film that does a great job of presenting the horrors of motherhood and the frustrations of societal demands. Stars Diana Agron and Melora Hardin are excellent, and new director Alexis Jacknow does a phenomenal job behind the camera, crafting a film that is beautiful to look at with some jarring jumpscares. While I don’t connect fully to the material (on account of having a penis), I can totally understand how this would scare the pants off of my childfree acquaintances. This one is definitely worth a watch for fans of modern horror, especially with the more recent political climate regarding reproductive rights. Check it out streaming on Hulu on April 28th