False Positive is a horror movie starring Ilana Glazer, usually known for her wild and free humor, is about a woman named Lucy who is so desperate to have a child that she is willing to try anything. When her husband Adrian suggested they go to Dr. Hindle, the top fertility specialist in the country who happens to be his old mentor, Lucy initially declines but ultimately agrees. He tells her that he has “invented his own method” of fertilization. The husband is shown, uh, producing a sperm sample, and Lucy gets pregnant with twin boys and a girl. Lucy has to have “selective reduction,” which means she has to choose either the twins or the girl to keep in order to have a “safer” pregnancy. Dr. Hindle suggests keeping the twins because they are stronger, but she wants the girl to name her after her mom, Wendy.
However, after giving birth, she finds out that Dr. Hindle and her husband reduced the girl instead of the boys, going against her wishes. She goes to Dr. Hindle to confront him about the reduction as well as a file she found in her husband’s safe about her own “case study.” She sneaks into the secret “lab” where she finds Wendy in a plastic bag. Dr. Hindle reveals his “secret” method was that he was using his own sperm, which is medical rape. She beats the shit out of him and his head nurse, grabs Wendy and her file (which was returned to Dr. Hindle by another patient who was spying on Lucy), and leaves. She gets home covered in blood, stares at the baby boys, hands them to a guilty Adrian, and forces him to leave. In the last scene, Lucy tries to breastfeed the stillborn Wendy, and it looks like Wendy starts to suckle. Lucy, still covered in blood, smiles.
Glazer co-wrote the film with John Lee, who she met working on the first season of Broad City. Lee interviewed with TheWrap where he discussed what influenced this creepy and surreal film.
Many horror fans have noticed correlations between Rosemary’s Baby and False Positive. In Rosemary’s Baby, Rosemary is raped by a satanic being and forced to carry, have, and care for the half-devil child. His name? Adrian. The same name as Lucy’s husband. If we view Dr. Hindle as Satan, he rapes her in a different way under the guise of his son Adrian. When she is inseminated she passes out and has satanic visions which include the face of the imagined Lucy getting wiped away. Adrian thinks that Lucy’s motherly instincts will kick in and she will care for the twins, just like his own mother. At the end of Rosemary’s Baby, Rosemary swears she will not take care of the baby, but as soon as the baby cries, she starts rocking his cradle to sooth him. Lucy, however, does the opposite. When the babies cry, she looks at them indifferently, and even imagines them floating away out the window before giving them to Adrian. Lee insists that it was not a rip-off of the 1968 classic, but it’s hard to do a horror movie about pregnancy without referencing Rosemary’s Baby, just like you couldn’t make a gangster movie without referencing The Godfather.
In the movie Taxi Driver, there are many close ups of Robert Deniro. The purpose of these shots is to symbolize how his character is a loner. Lee wanted to create an opposite effect, where shots of Lucy keep getting encroached on by other characters. Additionally, I noticed there are very few female characters, so her space is always being taken up by men. This could be accentuating the lack of autonomy Lucy has in the film.
In his interview with TheWrap, Lee mentions that he admired the work of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, in that he never says what is reality and what has been imagined. Throughout the movie, Lucy hallucinates several times and even shows up to Adrian’s work to bring him lunch, where he holds up a bag of the same food to reveal that she had just brought him lunch a few minutes prior. The term “mommy brain” is thrown at Lucy to gaslight her into questioning her own sanity. In the end, we still don’t know what is real and what she has imagined, since she sees her stillborn fetus breastfeeding. It’s hard to parse out what Lucy has really experienced, especially since she is the only person in the movie who is truly on her side. Everyone, including her best friend, is on the side of Dr. Hindle, or at least of the camp that she can’t trust herself.
Johnny Appleseed, born in 1774, spent his life walking around the modern midwest planting his apple seeds. He was a real person, but his story has been adapted into many children’s stories. How does this relate to this horror movie? Well, Dr. Hindle’s first name is John, and he too is trying to spread his seed far and wide. Ew.
Real-Life Fertility Fraud
Lee stated that once he and Ilana found out that “medical rape” is a real thing that happens in the US. Not only that, as of 2019 fertility fraud is only illegal in two states: Indiana and Texas. An actual fertility specialist named Donald Cline used his own semen to conceive more than 50 children from 1947-1987. He told his patients that he was using “anonymous donors.” He wasn’t tried until 2017 and he didn’t serve a single day in jail despite confessing to the crime. Lee and Glazer wanted to show that even in modern times, women can have very little participation in the decisions made around their pregnancy.