Written and directed by Alexis Jacknow, a woman enrols in a clinical trial to try and fix her seemingly broken biological clock after friends, family, and society pressures her to have children. Starring: Dianna Agron, Melora Hardin, Saul Rubinek, Jay Ali and Isabelle Du.
There’s a strange irony in making a film about supporting women choosing not to have children, in which a woman enters experimental treatment to trick her mind into wanting a baby. It’s an interesting choice by writer, director Alexis Jacknow, one that doesn’t entirely pay off. Starting out with that tone of dark comedy and satire is a perfect choice but sadly, it doesn’t last. What follows hits more traditional horror notes which is disappointing, tackling such a modern issue gave hope for an original style but it all feels overtly familiar. Jacknow does a fantastic job of capturing that societal pressure and expectation put upon women to have children but it feels as though anything nuanced it potentially had to say about the subject is overridden by the obvious style choices and predictable progression.
Unfortunately, the film follows beat for beat many a horror flick that has come before it. From the initial anxiety to the psychological changes and experiences that fall upon Dianna Agron’s Ella. One of the biggest problems that creates is nothing comes as a surprise, so the couple of significant reveal type moments will only be unexpected for anyone who’s not a horror fan. Here and there the direction does hit the desired notes of strength and independence but they’re weighed down by the rest of Clock. It even goes so far as to include an obscure, inscrutable ending which many a horror filmmaker has revelled in.
All of that is especially a shame when it’s letting down the stellar performances throughout. This role was a brilliant opportunity for Dianna Agron to show her range and intensity and she didn’t disappoint. She creates a character who’s a bundle of stress and anxiety but she’s also smart, capable and vehemently determined. Melora Hardin is an underappreciated delight of an actress who has so much more to offer than she’s often give the chance to show, this role is another example because it’s filled with a satisfyingly subtle darkness.
Saul Rubinek is also terrific, there’s an unpredictability to his character which is really intriguing and he clearly nods to a complicated history which is tied to his family’s survival from concentration camps. It’s another interesting choice from Jacknow to integrate the story with the family’s Jewish heritage, akin to Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg’s work on The Patient. However, it’s another element that doesn’t feel as though it quite pays off, it’s scratching the surface and not quite bonded with the film as a whole on a deeper level.
Clock had the potential to take a deep dive into how societal pressure for having children affects women, and to tell that through a woman’s perspective but it fell short. What starts out so well as a satire and dark look at the issue, devolves into your typical horror film. You can tell where it’s going and it feels like it’s taking direct cues from previous films. It’s a shame to see, not just for the opportunity of the story it had to tell but because it does a disservice to the strong, intense performances from Dianna Agron, Melora Hardin and Saul Rubinek.
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