Sommerleigh Pollonais, Horror Head Writer
Warning: Minor spoilers ahead
Plot: Lucy and Adrian find their dream fertility doctor in the illustrious Dr Hindle. But after becoming pregnant Lucy begins to notice something sinister behind the good doctor’s charm, and she sets out to uncover the unsettling truth about him.
Review: To this movie’s credit there is no point in which the dread-filled atmosphere and intense tone let up. From the stylish opening scene of Lucy (Ilana Glazer, best known for Broad City and who also co-wrote the script) using a home pregnancy test which ominously glows red as it turns into the title card to her first meeting with the charming yet somewhat creepy Dr Hindle (former Bond Pierce Brosnan) there’s this underlying discomfort that takes a hold. And soon you’ll find yourself as paranoid as poor Lucy, because everyone she meets seems just a bit…off.
Kudos to director John Lee who manages to imbue even the most harmless moments with a sense of genuine dread. A simple coffee with friends feels deeply uncomfortable and I found myself doubting and mistrusting any and everyone who came into contact with Lucy.
Of course praise also goes to the actors here as well. Brosnan has played villainous roles before but nothing quite like this, which went a long way in upping the creep factor here. Justin Theroux (The Leftovers, Your Highness) is basically channeling John Cassavetes or, more specifically, his character Guy from Rosemary’s Baby, who was also a man willing to use his wife to fulfil his own ambitions, and Gretchen Mol (Nightflyers, Perry Mason) as Nurse Dawn would probably be besties with Nurse Ratched (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) if they worked at the same hospital.
False Positive has a lot to say on the topic of the patriarchal institute of maternity care and the sometimes dangerous effects this has on women, both past and present. It also explores misogyny found in the workplace (Lucy is a brand manager but she’s the one expected to order lunch everyday for her all-male team). There’s also the micro-aggressions and subtle manipulations by her husband Adrian (Theroux), and sadly the lack of belief from even her female friends (at one point when Lucy talks to a friend about her doubts and concerns she’s asked, “Have you talked to your husband about this?”). Yes, False Positive is a movie with a lot to say on a lot of heavy topics, and therein may lie the problem.
When the movie is focused solely on the machinations of the fertility clinic, and the surrounding paranoia and possible mental breakdown Lucy is going through, it’s at its very best. The tension is palpable, the dread you feel for Lucy builds to almost unbearable levels, and the use of dreamlike sequences keeps you off your game. The more they delivered on this the more I found myself doubting Lucy’s sanity. All stellar stuff resulting in the kind of deftly-made thriller I live for.
The film however loses its footing as the story progresses and they veer away from the paranoia which made the story so interesting and go with straight-up horror. This could’ve worked if these elements were introduced properly all throughout the story, but because of this tonal shift at the end the impact is less horrific and more comedic than I would’ve liked. There’s also a twist here that was so predictable it would’ve been better if they just left it out completely. Not only did I figure it out since the first half of the story, it added absolutely nothing to the film and in my opinion should’ve been left on the cutting room floor.
Lots of cool ideas and a lot of topics for discussion (which as a horror fan I always enjoy) but with a bit more focus on the main plot threads and a tighter hold on the tone False Positive could’ve been a great companion piece to a film like Rosemary’s Baby. Instead it is just another thriller inspired by it.
Sommer’s Score: 6.5 out of 10
You can check out more great horror content below:
Supernatural Horror ‘Son’ a Pseudo-Sequel to Rosemary’s Baby
Iranian Psychological Horror ‘The Night’ Shines with Dark Atmosphere and Strong Performances
Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.
Double Tap Baby!