de facto film reviews 2 stars

Hulu’s latest fertility horror-thriller, Clock, joins a growing pool of similar features more relevant than ever, relying on a surprisingly fresh premise to stand out, but not much else. Whereas many films in the pregnancy horror subgenre follow a mother and her growing fetus in some wicked context, Clock follows a woman who does not want children. Although it is an increasingly common mindset for women to bear, the debut feature by writer/director Alexis Jacknow explores the societal pressure still put upon women to procreate and the mental and physical tolls it can have. When the protagonist Ella succumbs to this pressure and joins an experimental study meant to increase her desire to have children, i.e., fix her biological clock, it has unintended and horrifying consequences.
The most significant upside of Clock‘s current popularity on the streaming service, quite possibly, is the procurement of lead Dianna Agron from relative obscurity post-Glee. The actor puts her all into the film and plays her role as the spiraling wannabe mother well, and Ella’s character development is engaging enough. Jacknow presents a headstrong, successful woman who folds to the whims of societal expectations and family traditions despite her desires and must look inward to decide what she truly wants. Unfortunately, none of the other characters get the screentime necessary to shine, including the criminally underutilized Melora Hardin as Dr. Simmons and Saul Rubinek as Ella’s father, Joseph. Jay Ali as Ella’s husband, Aidan, is innocuous and uninteresting.
Apart from Ella’s character, there are few real positives to write home about, but Clock is not a total letdown. The editing and VFX are pretty impressive for a Hulu original, with some seamless CGI, solid transitions, jarring psychological horror-type montages, and a few gross-out moments. And while Jacknow’s debut also boasts an intriguing first half, it lets itself down by the end with a mish-mash of increasingly thin, jumbled themes and dull attempts at horror compared to similar projects; the otherwise intriguing premise about the pressure to reproduce gets lost within Jewish trauma from WWII, the carrying on of bloodlines, and a hallucinatory drug regimen that culminates in a life-changing implant.
Jacknow is a filmmaker to watch, and Clock is a fine debut. Still, the movie suffers from existing in a small sample size of pregnancy horror that most often presents something far more fun, curious, or engaging than what it offers. As a result, there is little that makes Clock truly unique or entertaining, and even the horror elements are negligible save for an ominous “very tall woman.” While this horror-thriller features an exceptionally clever concept and an excellent performance from Agron, it ultimately gives birth to another forgettable streaming release.