With mounting societal pressure, a woman aims to fix her broken clock and enters a clinical trial to help her conceive a child. But the unique experience unlocks something beyond maternal desires. Starring Dianna Agron, Clock aims to take viewers through the uncertainty of motherhood and the real fears as time runs out. However, this sci-fi horror struggles to balance all its themes and deliver an impactful message.
Ella (Agron) seemingly has it all; an incredibly successful career and a wonderfully supportive husband (Jay Ali). But that doesn’t stop others from finding it odd she hasn’t chosen to have children. With her best friend expecting and her father (Saul Rubinek) nagging, Ella worries that something might be wrong with her.
During her yearly gynecology appointment, her doctor tells her of a clinical trial that helps women jumpstart correct this issue, giving them that drive to start a family. Though hesitant, she decides to go through with it, unbeknownst to her husband.
Early into her treatment, she opens up about her fears and some of the cultural expectations from her Jewish father. And almost immediately, she begins to have hallucinations of spiders and an extremely tall woman dressed in black.
When she returns to her normal life post-trial, her hallucinations worsen. Struggling with the side effects but holding onto hope that her clock starts ticking, Ella will find herself falling to frightening depths.
On the surface, Clock is such an intriguing premise. It’s a film that any 30-something without kids can relate to — between fielding those ever-annoying questions from family or feeling behind as friends start having kids. Whether by design or due to circumstances beyond control, that parental choice is a daunting one.
The film does a great job of capturing that in the beginning. As Ella attends her best friend’s baby shower, the other attendees press her about her position on having kids. There’s also a really striking moment when she’s talking with the doctor (Melora Hardin) and firing off all the reasons she doesn’t want children, going deep into her fears, convictions, and outlook on the world.
That’s something that gets a bit lost as the film continues. And it’s a message that never fully comes to fruition in the conclusion.
As for the psychological horror elements, Clock does a decent job of keeping you unnerved and reeled in with an air of mystery. It grazes the surface of body horror, mainly while Ella is in treatment. Though I wish it had pushed that aspect further in the final act. But unfortunately, that final act is where the story begins to unravel.
When the third act approaches, it’s clear the film is trying to juggle too many elements — the obvious theme of female body autonomy and reproduction, but also Jewish heritage and generational trauma. It tends to forget about certain aspects because there’s an odd imbalance between these two competing narratives.
It’s even more frustrating when the credits roll, and it’s offered no answers as to what the larger purpose was. We learn nothing more about the study and if it’s something sinister. Or why Ella has such a disturbing reaction and if any other women experience the same thing.
Clock had so much potential to say something meaningful about women in their late 30s and the pressures. Or even something worthwhile about reproductive rights in this era. But it doesn’t. And that struggle continues into the themes around Ella’s heritage, which sadly feels shoehorned in. It has some interesting pieces, but there’s a lot left to desire.
Clock starts streaming on Hulu on April 28, 2023
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