Review by Sean Boelman
Clock is the second film to debut on the festival circuit that is adapted from a short on Hulu — the other being Appendage — and it suffers from many of the same issues. Underdeveloped and flawed, but still intriguing thanks to a solid concept, Clock may be satisfying enough to please some genre cinephiles.
The movie follows a woman who agrees to participate in a clinical trial in a desperate attempt to restore her biological clock, only to find that there may be a more substantial cost than she thought. It’s a concept that shows a ton of potential, but it’s developed in a way that leaves something to be desired. It feels like it’s an expansion of a short film — with a bunch of ideas that feel stretched way too thin.
For the most part, the themes in the movie are aggravatingly conventional. It’s another horror movie about motherhood and femininity, and while these topics often make for interesting genre pictures, this one frustratingly feels content with the bare minimum. The things that the film has to say about conformity are more interesting, but feel underdeveloped.
Yet despite having an undeniably interesting concept, this does not amount to much in terms of compelling characters. The protagonist is unfortunately rather generic, and while her internal journey is authentic, these same themes have been explored in other movies much better before. It also doesn’t help that her relationships with supporting characters are also underdeveloped, eliminating that as a method of characterization.
That being said, although the character she is given is somewhat thin, Dianna Agron’s performance is extremely strong. She brings a lot of empathy and emotion to a role that we’ve seen dozens of times before. No one in the supporting cast is given a particularly meaty role either, but Melora Hardin and Saul Rubinek do a good enough job for what is asked of them.
One of the more frustrating things about the film is that it lacks consistency in its level of severity. For the most part, the movie is made up of PG13-level scary images, and then — all of a sudden — there is a full-on shot of a mutilated d*ck. Because the film is such a slow burn for much of it, the shocking moments like this aren’t all that effective.
It’s also disappointing that the movie struggles to find a balance between its different subgenres of horror. There’s obviously a lot of body horror in the premise, but it also has psychological aspects in that the protagonist is questioning her own reality. It’s a dynamic that should go together very naturally, but doesn’t add up here.
Clock is yet another horror film that shows a ton of potential but doesn’t fully deliver. Alexis Jacknow is certainly an interesting new voice in filmmaking, and it will be exciting to see what she does with a more fleshed-out script.
Clock is screening at the 2023 Overlook Film Festival, which runs March 30-April 2 in New Orleans, LA.