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Movie Reviews

[Tribeca ’21] ‘False Positive’ review: More than just a modern take on a classic

Another strong release from A24 and Hulu.

False Positive is more than just a Rosemary’s Baby homage for the modern age. Lucy (Ilana Glazer) and her husband Adrian (Justin Theroux) have been trying for years to have a baby. Through Adrian’s connections they are able to get an appointment with renowned fertilizer doctor John Hindle (Pierce Brosnan). She soon ends up pregnant, but her birth plan is moving in an unexpected direction.

Pregnancy horror is a powerful sub genre. The scares are more relatable and even the most outrageous films are grounded in reality. The paranoia and fear are emotions that many feel while pregnant. False Positive takes all of these feelings and amplifies them Justin a little. Enough questions are asked to raise suspicions, but not so many that the story flies completely off the rails.

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It seems like everywhere Lucy turns, she has to deal with misogyny. Her co-workers show support while barely masking their perceived superiority. Dr. Hindle’s demeanor is almost condescending. She is constantly accused of having “Mommy brain.” There are hints she may even have become affected by all the male privilege even before becoming pregnant. Early on, she makes a comment about not being able to accomplish the one thing a woman should be able to do. This goes beyond the male characters. False Positive creates an air of suspicion that makes it hard to trust anyone. As things progress, the conspiracy seems to involve everyone in Lucy’s life.

The exceptional camera work adds to the tense atmosphere of the film. Dark reds and blues paint the screen, giving False Positive a nightmarish look. Some scenes are shot with a single light making it seem as if the movie is taking place in an abyss. There are also lots of shots involving reflections that disorient the viewer. It is easy to feel Lucy’s unease.

False Positive  becomes less subtle in its waning moments. The movie leans more into graphic horror and loses much of the intrigue that made it so interesting. There is almost a camp quality in the end that is not seen in the rest of the film. The last few minutes feel especially rushed before leading to a strange and powerful final image.

False Positive comes to Hulu June 25


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