FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO HAVE NOT SEEN FALSE POSITIVE, THIS IS A NON-SPOILER REVIEW
Many comedic actors have turned to horror throughout the years, much of the time to great success. Which goes to show you that the line between the two genres is quite blurred, indeed. The greatest success in recent memory has been that of Jordan Peele, whose Get Out and Us were able to mix timely and socially impactful issues, with Twilight Zone– like horror, to great critical acclaim. While, Ilana Glazer’s (Broad City) jump to the genre with False Positive does not go as smoothly, it is still a valiant effort and an effectively unsettling mood piece.
WHAT IS FALSE POSITIVE ALL ABOUT?
The film follows Lucy, a young woman who has been having extreme difficulties trying to get pregnant. Her husband Adrian recommends a fertility doctor, who has had great success in the past with providing his clients with the children they have always wanted. Lucy is artificially inseminated and soon she is miraculously pregnant, like she has always wanted. She should be happy, right? Well, she’s not. Because even though everyone is blaming her “mommy brain” for her out-of-character episodes and forgetfulness, Lucy feels like she is going crazy by suspecting that her fertility doctor is up to something very sinister.
HOW IS THE FILM’S CRAFT?
One of the best things I can say about False Positive is how beautifully shot and composed it is. The brilliantly effective lighting with the juxtaposition between brightness and pitch black, the disorienting camerawork, the sterility of the doctor’s office adding this sick, twisted feel to it, the incredible score that keeps the tension building at all times… the craft on display here by director John Lee, is truly magnificent. If anything, False Positive is a movie that is able to create a mood of terror, anxiety and uneasiness and stick with it throughout the entire runtime.
HOW IS ILANA GLAZER, IN HER FIRST DRAMATIC ROLE?
I was really curious, going into this film, to see how Glazer would be able to carry this dramatic role. Even though the actress has been in feature films before with The Night Before and Rough Night, she had never before had a film rest on her shoulders, especially one with this kind of heavy material. And with a great deal of happiness, I can say that she is fantastic in the movie. She pulls it off every step of the way, the uneasiness, the dread, the psychosis… her performance pulses with these things. And the fact that you have such empathy and care for her character as well, just goes to show you how truly effective Glazer is here.
AND THE REST OF THE CAST?
Pierce Brosnan was also the perfect choice to play the sinister Dr. Hindle. He almost reaches a level of hamming it up, but never eclipses to the point of coming off silly. I fully bought him as this ominous villain, who is also so charming that no one would ever expect him of wrong-doing. Unfortunately, Justin Theroux is just not given a whole lot of material here to create a character that you can invest in. He’s mostly there as a side piece and we never really get into his psyche, to understand what’s going on with him through this experience. Glazer and Theroux do have a nice chemistry with each other though, I just wish his written material was weightier.
WHAT ARE MORE OF THE POSITIVES?
False Positive is the type of horror that is dripping with dread, disorienting in a way that you have no idea what is real and what is not, making it a truly unnerving experience. The film is also an intelligent statement piece on the problematic issues of male dominance, which permeates throughout the film’s narrative.
AND THE NEGATIVES?
What does not work for me, however, is the fact that this film is so utterly predictable. Just from watching the trailers I was able to catch on to the big twist. The other supposed surprise in the film, I figured out at the very beginning when they were setting it up. While it all works for the story at hand, it is a real shame that Glazer and Lee were not able to come up with something more shocking. I also was really hoping for this film to be a little bit less of a straight-forward psychological horror. With the talent behind shows like Xavier: Renegade Angel, Wonder Showzen, and Broad City, I was expecting this to be a little bit more of a fresh, unique, and weird twist on the genre.
I do have to give the film credit for this though, the way the finale plays out does end up being trippy and unexpected. I couldn’t help, but wish the entire film was like that though.
False Positive streams on HULU Friday, June 25th.
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