Whether you are pro-life or pro-choice, one thing we can all agree on is that the chilling premise of Hulu’s False Positive is enough to make you second guess your fertility doctor. Lucy (Ilana Glazer) and Adrian (Justin Theroux) have tried just about everything to get pregnant for the last two years, and nothing will stick. Enter: Adrian’s med school professor, Dr. Hindle (Pierce Brosnan), now a successful fertility doctor with his own clinic. With Hindle’s help, Lucy is impregnated via IVF (In-Vitro-Fertilization). Lucy begins to suspect that Hindle may have more sinister intentions for her babies. A speech where Hindle boasts about “giving mothers their happy ending,” as well as forever being a part of the lives of the babies he helped create, is invasive and weird. Lucy starts to lose her grip on reality, and she attempts to uncover Hindle’s mysterious agenda.
False Positive presents dark lighting and a foreboding sense of atmosphere right off the bat, with Lucy peeing on a stick on the toilet, accompanied by loud Glee-like music. The score and soundtrack are all about maintaining this sense of dread throughout. Loss of control becomes a vital theme, especially in the believability of Lucy’s story. All three leads are well cast, with Ilana Glazer in particular really surprising me. After years of watching her in Broad City, I thought it may be hard for her to take on a more serious role. However, Glazer delivers a performance that shows there is more to her than comedy. Whether she is covered in blood, hallucinating pools of blood, or seeing blood form on the cover of a Peter Pan storybook, False Positive really oversells the bloody mess of childbirth.
On the flip side, Pierce Brosnan’s calmly eerie portrayal of Hindle carries an aura of menace from the first time he is onscreen. Brosnan sells the inflated ego and self-importance with lines like, “sometimes I wish I could clone myself.” Hindle exudes a presence that goes into effect every time he makes an appearance in the movie—it makes each trip to the clinic into a tense experience where you are waiting for the ball to drop.
False Positive presents the idea, through the use of fertility specialist Grace (Zainab Jah), that women are gifted with potential. A spiritual current runs through them—the most harmful, high risk activity could be letting men make the decisions. Director John Lee, who wrote the script with Ilana Glazer, makes this all about Lucy forming her own “birth story” and taking control back from those who are trying to take command of her body. With everyone telling her she is crazy, there is a definite inspiration taken from the granddaddy of all ‘pregnancy horror,’ Rosemary’s Baby.
In addition to thorough examination of childbirth, False Positive carries several ‘WTF’ moments that will have people buzzing for sure. I will not spoil any of those here, but I was shocked and satisfied. The final shot in particular is both gross and strangely beautiful. False Positive meditates on touchy topics while soaking its psychological horror delights in blood and mania. It made me uncomfortable and puzzled while watching—an instant mark of effective filmmaking. I am curious to see what type of audience reactions it will receive once it is available for wide viewing on Hulu. With exciting turns from Pierce Brosnan and Ilana Glazer, False Positive delivers a special brand of placental-erupting delight…
False Positive screened at the Tribeca Film Festival on June 17th, and debuts exclusively to Hulu on June 25th.