Ilana Glazer glows, while the script has morning sickness.
“False Positive” is probably the first movie I’ve seen to replicate “Rosemary’s Baby” since “The Devil Inside” back in 2014. Let me make a clear distinction here. “Rosemary’s Baby” is a classic directed by Roman Polanski and starring Mia Farrow, “The Devil Inside” is a piece of crap, and “False Positive” is more of a contemporary take on the first film, as I’m told. It does offer some twists and turns, ones that answer the question of whether or not the pregnancy is satanic, but it still doesn’t rank with the horror classic. This is mostly in the aspect on what is really going on with the expectant. Is it the drugs talking or is she really trapped in some kind of Hell?
The movie was co-written by Ilana Glazer (“Broad City”), who also stars as the main expectant Lucy. I wasn’t a fan of her last two movies: “The Night Before” and “Rough Night,” and that also goes for “False Positive,” but at the very least, she does an impressive job overcoming the formula with her own talents. Taking on a more serious role, I was reminded of when Kate McKinnon actually played a human (a closeted lesbian) in “Bombshell.” This is something I like to call: effort. And believe me, it’s sincere. More so than the actual movie.
Lucy has tried and failed to get pregnant with her husband Adrian (Justin Theroux). Running out of options, their only hope is to turn to specialist Dr. Hindle (Pierce Brosnan) for help. After the procedure, she suffers from morning sickness, which means she’s 100% pregnant. So far, she has triplets on the way: two boys and one girl, which means she could be at risk. So, Dr. Hindle advises an abortion on either the healthy twin boys since they share the same sack or the very small girl.
Both Adrian and Hindle advise she keeps the boys, but she wants the girl, whom she would like to name Wendy. You know like the eldest sister in “Peter Pan.” However, during her pregnancy, she starts to hallucinate and see visions. This is part of a process what the doctors call “mommy brain.” She starts to suspect the doctors did something to her during the two different procedures.
Other characters in the movie include Hindle’s nurse (Gretchen Mol), who acts and dresses up like a horror movie character, and a midwife (Zainab Jai) Lucy finds on the internet. They both have their moments, but they’re underdeveloped, and never really go anywhere. An out of all the supporting actors in the movie, only Brosnan can portray the doctor, whom you can tell would be deceiving with his charms.
As I watched “False Positive” as a virtual screening for the Tribeca Film Festival, I was mostly left uninterested by how it tries to replicate “Rosemary’s Baby.” It provides visionary images involving blood and red screens, but you don’t see the kind of dark and sinister intentions Mia Farrow had to deal with in the classic. You only see Glazer trying to prove to her husband and companions that she isn’t kooky. She knows something is going on, and she does a good job in her performance, but neither she nor co-writer and director John Lee could take this particular genre to new heights.
When we see the few surprises, we’re compelled by them, but when we see the standard elements, we’re bored by them. The triplet story lacks empathy, the husband wife relationship falls flat, and near the end, it feels more like the ending to “Get Out.” Stick to the classics people.
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