clock | alexis jacknow | dianna agron | melora hardin | jay ali | drama | thriller | united states | mad scientist | ghost | haunted | haunting | grace porter | saul rubinek | laura elizabeth stuart | stefan sims | nikita patel | rosa gilmore | charissa allen | isabelle du
Director: Alexis Jacknow
Writer: Alexis Jacknow
Starring: Dianna Agron, Melora Hardin and Jay Ali
This was a movie that I heard about on a couple of podcasts that I listen to so I decided to give this a watch as a Featured Review since I couldn’t make it to the theater. What I heard sounded interesting and figured this would make for an interesting watch as someone who is a bit older than normal to start their family. I’ve given it a second go to see where I sat with it. I liked the concept and the message, but there were things with that first watch that didn’t sit well. Wanting to see how it worked a second time.
Synopsis: a woman enrolls in a clinical trial to try and fix her seemingly broken biological clock after friends, family and society pressures her to have children.
We start this off with a harrowing scene. A woman is distraught and bleeding. She sits on a swing. We see her then climb up and use the chain to kill herself. Something falls from her when she does. It looks like a cogwheel.
It then takes us over to meet our lead, Ella (Dianna Agron). She is married to Aidan (Jay Ali). Her first scene is at a party for her friend Shauna (Grace Porter), who is pregnant. It appears that the other friends also have families. They ask Ella the age-old question about when she is going to have a baby. She says she doesn't want to have them. They don't understand and tell her that soon she will come around. What I loved here was that they asked what she does all day without having children and to be honest, it looks great with how she uses her time.
We then see Ella as she goes to a new gynecologist, Dr. Webber (Nikita Patel). She was highly recommended by her husband, who is also a doctor. The exam goes well and it ends with the doctor asking if she plans to have children. Ella gives her safe answer to which Dr. Webber informs her that she doesn't have time to wait. Ella reveals that she doesn't want children and doesn't feel the same that her friends and family think she should.
The family pressure comes from her father, Joseph (Saul Rubinek). He and Ella are Jewish. He uses their family history, saying that what her ancestors went through, she is throwing away and ignoring. It is his belief that Ella should continue their line to honor them. To complicate this, Aidan wants children. He doesn't want to pressure Ella into having them and they have a dispute in bed when she relents to what her father said. This bothers Aidan.
The movie then gives us more of the conversation between Dr. Webber and Ella. She got her into a clinical trial for an experimental treatment. This is led by Dr. Elizabeth Simmons (Melora Hardin). The goal here is through medication and therapy, to get Ella and the other participants to want to have children. They will discover the root of the issue and correct it. There are other dangerous side effects here as Ella hallucinates. She must weigh whether it is worth being 'normal' and losing herself in this experiment or to stick to her beliefs and feelings.
That is where I'll leave my recap and introduction to the characters. Where I want to start is that the love the concept of this movie. What I didn't realize until getting married was that women are asked the questions, "When are you getting married?" and "When are you having kids?" a lot. Jaime had a traumatic birth experience and was asked when she was having a second almost at once after returning to work. As a male, I've been asked. Not nearly on the same level. I'm thankful for Jaime to give me this insight as it helped me understand this movie even more.
I don't want to move away from this idea just yet though. I hate that society puts the pressures like this on women. They frame it in this that Ella isn't normal for enjoying her life and not wanting children. She has fears of childbirth and for good reason. It can be a traumatic experience. It also doesn't help that her mother passed away from breast cancer at her age in the movie. This isn't a direct correlation, but it still a part of the reproductive/woman anatomy. We see this pressure put on her by her friends and doctors that she visits.
That isn't where it stops though. Her father also presses her. Her grandparents survived the Holocaust. Joseph claims that if she is doesn't have children, she is dishonoring everything they went through all the way back to when the fish climbed out of the water to start the genetic line that would become humans. That line also didn’t necessarily work for me. It doesn't say what Joseph did, but for how religious he is, that is a science way of looking at things. It could be possible. I'm just assuming from his age and faith that someone else probably should use this.
I'm going to then shift to filmmaking here. The reason is that in the synopsis it brings up biological clock. This almost feels like a literal thing with how often it is brought up. That is by design. Cinematography and framing includes this item as well. Joseph has a family heirloom that is a grandfather clock. There is one that torments Ella in her room for the trial. This goes to be a bit heavy handed with the imaginary, but it fit the vibe with how often is brought up. Sticking here, I do think that the overall message is also too in your face. Since this was made by a woman and knowing the things that Jaime has said, that feels by design as well.
Moving away from this, the rest of the cinematography was good. The effects were solid with how real the blood looked was great. There is also a subplot that with this treatment, Ella is losing her ability to see colors vividly. As a color-blind person, I found that intriguing. This is important as well since Ella is a popular interior decorator. Her use of color is what she is known for. This goes ghostly a bit with the Very Tall Woman (Rosa Gilmore). I like how she factors in. Other than that, the soundtrack was fitting for what they needed. That did get a bit repetitive with the voice-overs where I was getting frustrated. I get why it done though.
All that is left then would be the acting. Agron was great in this lead role. I like that we are seeing she is happy. Peer and family pressure is cracking that though. It felt real so I wouldn't be shocked to learn she was channeling things that she's experienced. I'll be honest, it feels heavy as well. Hardin was solid as this doctor who runs the trial. She seems like she is there with the best intentions, but I get a mad scientist vibe. I like Ali, Porter and Rubinek, as well as the other friends. They mean well but put pressure on Ella to conform. The cast around them rounded this out for what was needed. It was solid across the board.
In conclusion, I did enjoy this movie despite its heavy subject matter. I like what they're exploring as it has a message that needs to be said. This does feel like it is made more for women as I felt the message came on a bit too strong. With how often my wife gets asked these questions though, it might not be a fair critique from me. The acting helps though with making this work. Agron is good and is pushed to where she ends up by the surrounding cast. This is well-made. The best parts are the cinematography and look of the blood used. The imaginary is also overused as it repeats voice-over dialogue, but not enough to ruin this by any stretch. Not one that I can recommend to everyone. If you're a woman, give this a watch or if you like social commentary in your horror. That could turn off viewers though.
My Rating: 7 out of 10