‘Clock’ review round-up: Hulu’s ‘midnight madness perfection’ explores ‘horrors of womanhood’

On April 28, 2023, Hulu released “Clock,” starring Dianna Agron as Ella Patel, a woman desperate to fix her broken biological clock. The horror film from first-time director Alexis Jacknow also stars Jay Ali (“Carnival Row,” “Daredevil”) as her husband and Saul Rubinek (“Unforgiven,” “Frasier”) as her father. Melora Hardin (“The Office,” “The Bold Type”) features as the pioneering doctor managing Ella’s treatment.

Holding fresh at 80% on Rotten Tomatoes, “Clock” puts “spooky, if sometimes conventional, spin on baby fever” (Nate Adams, The Only Critic). Read our full review round-up below.

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Jonathan DeHaan of Nightmare on Film Street says, “Pregnancy horror rages on in Alexis Jacknow’s ‘Clock,’ adapted from her short film of the same name in which a woman is haunted by the ticking of her biological clock in an empty parking garage. The feature, however, follows a woman in search of a miracle cure to install a biological clock that will (hopefully) give her the mental fortitude to want a child.” DeHaan adds, “Like so many first-time features, Jacknow goes for broke, leaving it all on the dancefloor. Female autonomy, mental illness, the holocaust – ‘Clock’ is (over)loaded with ideas. Some of them feel in-line with the plot more than others but it’s still a lot of movie. That said, it also features a wonderfully grotesque nightmare image of pregnancy that could have come from the mind of no one else and despite any misgiving I have about the rest of the movie, was pure midnight madness perfection.”

Molly Henery of The Blogging Banshee writes, “Making her feature film debut, ‘Clock’ was written and directed by Alexis Jacknow. The film follows Ella, a happily married woman with a great career and a wonderful life. There’s just one problem; she doesn’t want to have kids. With everyone around her telling Ella she needs to start a family, she resorts to drastic measures to try and ‘fix’ whatever is making her not want children, but everything comes at a price.” Noting that the film is not perfect but the performances are a highlight, “Agron is fascinating to watch, in one moment making Ella seem like a woman with a perfect life, then in the next making Ella appear almost animalistic. There is a visceral side to Agron’s performance that heightens the tension, while also tugging at the heartstrings. Melora Hardon plays the seemingly helpful Dr. Elizabeth Simmons. What makes Hardon’s performance stand out is how she can convey a sense of professionalism and empathy, yet there is a sinister edge to her.”

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Anton Bitel of Projected Figures praises the film, noting that it is unafraid to get dark. “’Clock’ makes very clear, pain is just a part of feminine experience: not just the pangs of labour and the bloody ruptures of birth, but also the discomfort of routine gynecological checkups – all exposed by Jacknow in a rounded examination of the specific horrors of womanhood.” The cast once more is praised but the script is the major selling point here. Bitel concludes, “This is a satisfyingly messy and provocative admixture of different ideas about what it means to be a woman in an unequal world – and a very assured calling card for Jacknow, who deftly pushes through a variety of clashing tones in delivering her baby.”

Douglas Davidson of Elements of Madness was impressed by the film, stating, “Look for stories that seek to explore concepts like grief (‘Mandy’), fear (‘Halloween Ends’), personal responsibility (‘The Long Walk’), and even lapsed faith (‘The Vigil’). This is where Jacknow’s ‘Clock’ exists, using a multi-layered approach to examine the way in which women exist in a patriarchal world, even those whose matriarchal culture might outwardly prove to contradict this yet offer no shelter.” 

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