Occasionally, Netflix feigns interest in horror. We get a Fear Street trilogy or the unfairly maligned Texas Chainsaw Massacre. But the original streaming giant doesn’t have much to offer genre fans. While Shudder has consistently stepped up to offer classic and original programming, Hulu has made up for a lack of volume with surprisingly good original movies. Fresh, Run, No Exit, and the very good Hellraiser remake prove that a diversity of platforms offering original content is a horror fan’s best friend. Just released this week, Hulu’s latest release, Clock, is generating some postive critical buzz.
Ella Patel has a successful business and happy marriage. By all accounts, she has a wonderful life that anyone would envy. Despite her successes, Ella’s friends pressure her to have children and her father demands grandchildren. Though her husband claims he is just as happy with their marriage, Ella feels the pressure to have children. Following the advice of a doctor, Ella turns to a clinic that promises an experimental treatment that will ‘fix’ her broken ‘clock’.
Clock Effectively Blends Suspense, Scares, and Uncomfortable Body Horror
As just a straightforward horror movie, Clock is a consistently atmospheric and frightening movie. Writer and director Alexis Jacknow – making her feature-length debut- aptly mixes a tense mood with more traditional jump scares. Some of these jumps derive from familiar horror movie tropes. That is, Clock exploits a familiar blurred line as Dianna Argon’s ‘Ella’ increasingly experiences hallucinations calling reality into question Though it’s a familiar way to generate scares and suspense, Jacknow has more tricks up her sleeve. In particular, one roadside scare should have even seasoned horror fans jumping out of their seat.
Expect several moments that may have you screaming in shock at the screen or turning your head away.
Where Clock works particularly well is in its ability to elicit high levels of discomfort. In addition to her blending of scares and mood, Jacknow works in some queasy body horror in her exploration of the horrors of pregnancy. Expect several moments that may have you screaming in shock at the screen or turning your head away. One scene involving an hallucinatory spider on a pregnant belly should have you stressing as you wonder how far Jacknow will take the horror. As Clock hits its middle act the story threatens to grind down to a halt. But Jacknow regains her footing for an unnerving final act that sees a couple of WTF story swerves and more brutal body horror.
Clock Explores Themes and Ideas That Should Resonate with Underserved Horror Fans
Arguably, Clock sets itself apart courtesy of Jacknow’s social commentary that will resonate with many women in the 20s and 30s. Increasingly over the last decade or so, there’s been a pushback from young female professionals against the narrative that women should want to have children. While Clock delivers overt horror, the more subtle genre aspects arise from the ways in which Jacknow shows just how much pressure society places on women to have kids. From friends to parents to physician Clock sidesteps questions about the logic of Ella’s choices by framing everything within this context. Several times throughout the thriller characters refer to Ella as ‘broken’ or needing to be ‘fixed’, which are telling choices of words.
…the more subtle genre aspects arise from the ways in which Jacknow shows just how much pressure society places on women to have kids.
If there’s a narrative thread that doesn’t always work, it’s the nature of the relationship Jacknow draws between Ella, her father, and their Jewish heritage as Holocaust survivors. As a straightforward plot thread, Clock uses this family history to further justify Ella’s choices – it also allows Jacknow to incorporate some familiar horror imagery into the movie. Yet it’s not always clear how this part of the story connects to the larger themes. And by the movie’s finale, this plot point almost contradicts everything that Jacknow has argued for up to that point. Still it’s a minor issue that admittedly leads to a thoughtful conclusion. Simply put, Clock leaves you with questions that will linger long after the movie ends.
Clock a Frightening Mix of Body Horror and Social Commentary
Clock represents a bold, confident feature-length debut for Alexis Jacknow. Take note of how well Jacknow blends jump scares alongside a terse atmosphere and often grotesque body horror. But it’s Jacknow’s ability to tell a story with powerful social commentary that sets Clock apart. Though the themes will obviously resonate with women anyone will be able to identify with the pathos the story and Dianna Agron’s performance elicit. Maybe the middle act shows a bit of strain under the movie’s length. Nonetheless, Jacknow picks up the slack and delivers a shocking finale that will linger long past the credits.