FALSE POSITIVE l Courtesy of Hulu and A24

FALSE POSITIVE is helmed by John Lee, who shares a writing credit with the film’s star Ilana Glazer. Alongside Glazer, the film stars Justin Theroux, Pierce Brosnan, Gretchen Mol, Sophia Bush, and Zainab Jah.

After months of trying and failing to get pregnant, up-and-coming marketing executive Lucy (Ilana Glazer) and her husband Adrian (Justin Theroux), a successful surgeon, are finally seeking medical intervention. Their fertility doctor, the renowned Dr. Hindle (Pierce Brosnan), seems like the answer to their prayers. His techniques are cutting-edge, his bedside manner friendly, and he happens to be Adrian’s mentor from years ago. The shiny lacquer of Dr. Hindle’s practice begins to tarnish after Lucy experiences an emotionally traumatic event early in the process. From there, her suspicion grows… along with her belly. Suddenly, this deeply personal experience feels like it belongs to everyone else but her and Lucy is determined to get down to the bottom of things and seize back control of her birth story.

The obvious companion to FALSE POSITIVE is 1968’s Rosemary’s Baby. A vital ingredient in both horror films is the notion of pregnancy going hand-in-hand with possession. I’m not just talking about the horror subgenre of demonic possession, I’m talking about the high price that pregnant women pay in terms of autonomy. From political discourse to societal expectations and basic biology, pregnancy often equates to the body no longer being one’s own. When a woman is pregnant, she becomes possessed by the needs of the fetus – a physical tether that impacts her body in totally new ways. She equally becomes possessed by society’s attachment, expectations, and perceived ownership of the experienced of motherhood. What both FALSE POSITIVE and Rosemary’s Baby understand and uniquely illustrate is that the line between maternal joy and body horror is thin and depends entirely on agency and choice. 

FALSE POSITIVE takes deadly aim at pregnancy as a social institution. The film confidently weaves discussion of the rift between mothers and the workplace, alternative medicine vs cutting edge medical procedure, the infantilization of pregnant women, and more controversial topics like abortion procedures into a gripping horror story. FALSE POSITIVE is blatantly political and fully immersed in horror’s proud tradition of gender commentary.

It’s a brilliant, cerebral piece that is anchored to its earthier facets with amazing performances. Ilana Glazer is an instantly likable and relatable character to which any female viewer can see herself reflected. This quality is essential in a film like FALSE POSITIVE, where the viewer must experience their own unraveling alongside Lucy. Pierce Brosnan also shines as the suspiciously flawless Dr. Hindle. An unnervingly steady performance.

FALSE POSITIVE bears the hallmarks of an A24 horror by way of trippy imagery and visceral horror that forces your jaw to drop – and maybe makes you heave a little bit. As mentioned at the outset, pregnancy without joy is the purest form of body horror and FALSE POSITIVE exemplifies that concept. Things go from bad, to worse, to downright hellish.

FALSE POSITIVE is sinister, smart, and spine-chilling. For all of its razor-sharp political commentary, the film boasts a wicked satirical edge that’s driven home by absolute terror. At every level, it’s a knockout. 

FALSE POSITIVE enjoyed its World Premiere at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival on June 17 and will premiere exclusively on Hulu on June 25.

Caitlin Kennedy
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