Warning: Some spoilers ahead.
Hulu’s newest horror film, “False Positive,” is a departure from Ilana Glazer’s typical comedic roles and one which she is welcoming with open arms. As she sees it, it is an opportunity to dive into a much darker script that she hopes will help her process on screen some emotional turmoil she has struggled with off screen.
“False Positive” tells the story of a woman named Lucy (Glazer) and her husband Adrian (Justin Theroux) who try for over two years to get pregnant and finally find success with an acclaimed IVF doctor named John Hindle (Pierce Brosnan). The pregnancy takes, and Lucy gets pregnant with triplets — only to find out her pregnancy is “high risk.” She has to make an insanely difficult decision: undergo a fetal reduction and either keep two boys or the one girl.
Unbeknownst to Lucy, Adrian and Dr. Hindle are conspiring against her. After some increasingly intense hallucinations, Lucy begins to suspect something is wrong with her pregnancy — and that’s where the plot twist thickens.
In a recent interview with USA Today, “False Positive” co-writer and director John Lee said he and Glazer were inspired to write the film after both of them experienced intense personal loss — Lee and his wife went through a miscarriage, and Glazer lost a close friend shortly before she began writing the film.
“I was very much in a moment of loss,” Glazer told USA Today. “This was right after ‘Broad City’ had stopped airing, and right when ‘Broad City’ started airing, I lost one of my best friends and I have not had that experience before. So that moment was all about loss for me.”
Glazer added that the emotional ending of “Broad City” in 2019 was tough to process, and some of those emotions came out in “False Positive” — partly because of the film’s dark nature.
“The end of ‘Broad City’ was quite emotional for Abbi [Jacobson] and I to perform, and then to go into ‘False Positive,’ it was a gift because it became this container for me to exercise my feelings. Both exercise and exorcise, I guess,” Glazer said. “I really got that experience that I think comes more with drama, I was really present in that moment.”
Working through those difficult feelings was a mixed bag for Glazer, though — she told Vanity Fair she felt “psychologically tortured” while making the film and getting into Lucy’s character.
Lee inspired by other pregnancy horror flicks like “Rosemary’s Baby,” but he wanted “False Positive” to feel more grounded. It still has some fantastical elements that really amp up the spooky factor, like Lucy’s hallucinations and the fact that it seems everyone close to her is in on the sinister plot — but overall the plot feels eerily possible. “There hasn’t really been a story that examined that feeling of confusion and loss,” Lee told USA Today. “‘Rosemary’s Baby’ is one, but that goes into such a fantastical place and I wanted to stay more grounded.”
Glazer told the paper that her own pregnancy experience (which happened “a couple years” after making the film) helped in the writing process. “‘Mommy Brain’ was actually a title we were considering. But personally, I have not really been experiencing that,” Glazer said, adding that she has “sought out a de-misogynized education about pregnancy.”
Glazer’s pregnancy journey with husband David Rooklin has made her more cynical in some ways, but also more aware of how to protect herself.
“I’ve found myself even angrier about the power structures, and even more incensed at the system we live in where women are second-class citizens across all socio-economic statuses, on a gradient of wealth and race and class,” Glazer said. “I’m angrier in my body because it’s going through this experience and I think that’s also made me more mindful of dodging that.”
“False Positive” is streaming now on Hulu.