False Positive (Movie Review)

Last Updated on August 5, 2021

PLOT: Struggling with fertility issues, Lucy and her husband seek help from the Hindle Women's Center… but as soon as Lucy gets pregnant, she begins to suspect that there's something sinister about Doctor John Hindle.

REVIEW: Best known for her curly hair and comedic performances, Ilana Glazer has straightened her hair and gotten serious for director John Lee's psychological horror film False Positive. Unfortunately, Glazer and Lee – a comedy regular himself, and co-creator of Wonder Showzen – were so dedicated to making sure that she plays her role completely straight, they failed to give her character much of a personality. It's surprising to see that Glazer is capable of playing someone who is so bland, and it's even more surprising that the character is so uninteresting given that Glazer also wrote the screenplay with Lee (working from a story Lee conceived with author Alissa Nutting). She helped build this character from the ground up, but there's nothing to her aside from concerns about pregnancy and work.

False Positive John Lee Ilana Glazer Justin Theroux

The character is Lucy Martin, who has been unsuccessfully trying to get pregnant for two years by the time the film begins. With nature not taking its course, Lucy and her surgeon husband Adrian (Justin Theroux) decide to seek help from Adrian's mentor Doctor John Hindle (Pierce Brosnan), who now runs the Hindle Women's Center. Hindle has invented his own fertility treatment that he describes as being a "little bit of both" intrauterine insemination and in vitro fertilization – and whatever it is, it's quite effective, because Lucy quickly finds herself pregnant with triplets. She is then presented with a sad choice: to reduce the risk of complications, it's suggested that they do a "selective reduction" procedure and abort either the boy fetuses that share an amniotic sac, or the "female singlet". It's around the time when she has to make this decision that Lucy's mental state begins to crumble, and it's all downhill from there.

False Positive has been described as a "modern Rosemary's Baby", and that is very clearly what the movie wants to be. As Lucy's pregnancy goes on, she becomes increasingly paranoid that Adrian and Hindle have some sort of secret, sinister agenda regarding her offspring… but there's no hint at what they might be up to. The paranoia in Rosemary's Baby was driven by talk of Satanism and witchcraft, of infant sacrifice. There was something to fear there. In this movie, it's not clear what we should be concerned about. Since we see things from Lucy's perspective, Adrian and Hindle certainly do come off as being shady, but why? What could they be doing? Lucy doesn't even present a theory, she's just worried and suspicious.

As we try to ascertain whether the men in Lucy's life are working against her, if she's suffering from prepartum depression, or if all these concerns can be chalked up to a condition jokingly referred to throughout the movie as "mommy brain", False Positive does achieve a very dark tone. Although Lee and Glazer have indicated that they feel there is some humor to the film, that didn't really come through in any substantial way during my viewing. It takes Lucy's situation very seriously, and given that it deals with potential pregnancy complications it is an uncomfortable movie to sit through at times. But it's also not a particularly interesting movie, because we have no clear reason to be afraid of Adrian or Hindle.

The movie is really just 90 minutes of watching Lucy worry, and eventually it gets difficult to sit through not just because of the heavy subject matter, but also because none of the characters are likeable and it starts to feel like there's no point in watching them go through all of this. For me, False Positive became a slog and wore out its welcome long before the end credits started to roll. What's going on with Adrian and Hindle? Is Lucy's career going to continue going well? I didn't care.

False Positive Pierce Brosnan John Lee

False Positive has a good cast, and Glazer handles the dramatic role well. In addition to the actors already mentioned there are also notable appearances by Zainab Jah, Sophia Bush, Josh Hamilton, and Gretchen Mol (who makes Hindle's nurse Dawn the creepiest person in the movie), but the story didn't sustain the running time as far as I was concerned, and overall I found the movie to be off-putting. Its effectiveness depends on the viewers managing to be invested in Lucy's story and getting wrapped up in her paranoia, and I couldn't. It didn't work for me.

If you want to give False Positive a try yourself, the movie is available to watch on the Hulu streaming service as of June 25th.

False Positive



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About the Author

Cody is a news editor and film critic, focused on the horror arm of JoBlo.com, and writes scripts for videos that are released through the JoBlo Originals and JoBlo Horror Originals YouTube channels. In his spare time, he's a globe-trotting digital nomad, runs a personal blog called Life Between Frames, and writes novels and screenplays.