‘Clock’ Review: That Biological Ticking Is Now a Time Bomb

A woman who does not want children is pressured into changing her mind, with horrific results, in Alexis Jacknow’s fitfully scary horror movie.

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By Elisabeth Vincentelli

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Ella (Dianna Agron) has a successful career as an interior designer, with spare time for afternoon sex with her handsome, loving husband (Jay Ali) and volunteer work. The only cloud over this perfect picture is that Ella does not want children, and feels bad about not feeling bad about it.

Motherhood has long been a major subject of horror movies, which have feasted on such themes as intimate invasion — the call came from inside the womb! — and perception-distorting imbalances. The writer-director Alexis Jacknow incorporates these and more, messily so, in her Hulu feature “Clock.”

Unmoored by conflicting impulses and desires, Ella finally gives in, largely to appease her widowed father (Saul Rubinek), a Holocaust survivor who begs her to keep their family line alive. She enrolls in an experimental program that feels as if Goop had been dreamed up by David Cronenberg and is run by the alarmingly soothing Dr. Simmons (Melora Hardin). The treatment to make her more receptive to having children involves talk therapy, drugs and a mysterious intrauterine implant.

Agron, fresh from a strong turn in the indie “Acidman,” anchors “Clock” with a restrained, histrionics-free performance somewhat at odds with the film’s perfunctory jump scares. “Clock” is a psychological thriller, or perhaps even a satire, in horror clothing, tantalizing us with thought-provoking ideas, only to abandon them: nature versus nurture, the influence of the wellness-industrial complex over minds and bodies, the oppressive expectations placed on women — including by themselves. Most dramatically potent is the relationship between Ella and her father, fraught with guilt. Alas, time runs out on that one, too.

Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 31 minutes. Watch on Hulu.

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