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Giving Pregnant Pause

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Hulu

MOVIE REVIEW
False Positive (2021)

“False Positive” is not body horror in the conventional sense, as the terrors visited on our protagonist, Lucy (Ilana Glazer), are from clinical procedures performed by fertility specialist Dr. Hindle (Pierce Brosnan) with a hospital gown obscuring her view. Much like “Here Before,” “False Positive” casts its protagonist as an unreliable narrator suffering mental breakdown, only to reveal its own plot twist as she’s gaslit the whole time.

With Justin Theroux as Lucy’s husband, Adrian, and Gretchen Mol as Dr. Hindle’s nurse Dawn, the film certainly boasts a recognizable supporting cast. It also boasts production values so extravagant that viewers might be inclined to think Lucy and Adrian come from old money since there’s no way their professions could subsidize their luxury Manhattan apartment. But this is unmistakably made for TV (Hulu, to be exact), and you can tell by Ms. Glazer’s stilted acting, John Lee’s pedestrian shot-reverse-shot direction and that strange lack of ambient sound. Many of the scenes play out like those anti-harassment training videos your employers make you watch. Mr. Lee has a background directing sitcoms, which totally explains his style here and why it’s utterly unsuited.

The film’s biggest transgressions aren’t its TV sensibilities, though. Its anti-abortion tenor – which could be fair game for the genre – notwithstanding, “False Positive” traffics in racism and homophobia. At least it recognizes the Magical Negro trope associated with the midwife character, Grace Singleton (Zainab Jah), and attributes it to Lucy’s mommy brain (which imagines Grace to be in full African dress and surrounded by ethnic decor). Less forgivable is the inexplicable vision (or dream, who knows?) of Lucy hiding in a hotel room closet watching Adrian perform fellatio on Dr. Hindle. Is realizing your spouse is a closeted gay fodder for horror? If so, that seems a lot more noxious than observing Lucy breastfeeding an aborted fetus.

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