Lucy Martin wants a baby. But it’s not happening for some reason.
The idea of having a little girl of her own to teach, to guide, to hold and love, ah, that is one of Lucy’s greatest desires. And she’s tried everything to reach that goal. She’s seen doctors, tried health programs, stopped drinking, she’s done everything the experts recommend.
Then, one day, her husband, Adrian, suggests they go to one of the best fertility doctors in the world: Dr. John Hindle, who specializes in clinically induced insemination procedures. Lucy agrees, even though she wanted the process to be completely natural. “As a woman, that’s the one thing I’m supposed to be able to do,” she laments.
When Lucy arrives at the clinic, however, she’s immediately impressed by the handsome Dr. Hindle, his cooly efficient office and his revolutionary insemination procedures that have resulted in many pregnancies for women who have given up hope.
Hubby Adrian forgot to mention that Dr. Hindle used to be his medical school prof, and that’s how he got Lucy in so quickly, but Lucy puts that aside for now. For now, she just wants to give it a try. I mean, this Hindle guy seems to know his stuff. It’s almost like he knows a woman’s body better than she knows it herself.
And after Lucy endures one simple—though invasive and uncomfortable—procedure, it turns out that the doc does indeed know his stuff. In no time at all, she’s pregnant!
In fact, once they get around to the ultrasound part of prenatal care, they find out that not only is Lucy with child, but with three of them: twin boys and a smaller singlet girl.
That’s great news … and not so great news. Dr. Hindle advises that Lucy have a procedure called “selective reduction” for the greater good of the children. The surviving child or children will have a better chance of actually being born—especially with Lucy’s history—if either the boys or the little girl are reduced, or eliminated.
But what now? What should they–or rather, what should she—do? Lucy had such hopes for a girl that she already named her. Wendy, just like in Peter Pan, Lucy’s favorite book as a child. But Adrian and the doctor both vote for keeping the twins. (It’s almost like they’re teaming up against her.)
This whole experience has just gone from delightful to dreadful. Lucy wants a baby. But she has to lose one. Or two. And she’s starting to feel like she’s losing in so many, many ways.
At first, it appears that Lucy and Adrian have a loving and giving married relationship. (However, with time we find out otherwise.) And beyond that, there’s little positive to point to other than one snapshot photo of a healthy newborn lying at his smiling mother’s breast.
Lucy meets with a midwife who dresses in stylized apparel and adorns her office with African masks and other similar accoutrements. The woman tells her “We have a spiritual current that flows through us. We are vessels for a cosmic feat.” But later the woman meets with Lucy again, only this time in an office stripped of all those aforementioned accoutrements and tells her, “I am not your mystical Negress, Lucy!”
[Spoiler Warning] Dr. Hindle talks of pedophiles and terrorists plaguing the people of our country and says, “They search for solutions, but God, money, magic—none of these things can fix our problems. None of these things cure disease, science does. We have a saying around here. God doesn’t make babies, I do!”
We see Lucy in various stages of undress throughout the film. She’s obviously braless in pajamas on several occasions and in low-cut tops on others. She’s naked in the bath with a light see-through covering of soap bubbles. We also see her topless in the midst of vigorous lovemaking. (They’re filmed upside down and in the shadows, but critical elements are still very visible.) One lengthy shot shows Lucy completely naked and totally covered in blood as she walks into a bathroom and turns to look in a mirror. A disturbing, graphic scene involves nudity and an aborted fetus.
An online video includes a number of black-and-white photos and drawings depicting naked pregnant women. Many of them appear to be old clinical photographs and not designed to be titillating, but several of the pictures are very graphic in nature and show exposed genitals.
Lucy has a dream of following Adrian to a hotel where he kisses and embraces another woman and then proceeds to a room where he kisses, fondles and performs a sexual act on a shirtless man. (The details are hidden just out of sight.) A man in Lucy’s office notes that he offers a bit of female intuition to his clients.
Dr. Hindle also tends to caress his gynecological tools in seductive ways and makes some light sexual moans while in the midst of procedures between Lucy’s legs.
There are times when reality and fantasy blur here. But there’s lots of goop in the mix, either way.
Blood spills out of Lucy at various times on the floor or while she’s in the tub. She struggles and nearly drowns underwater at one point. And Lucy causes her own damage, too. She hits someone on the head with a mirror. She gets into a fist fight with a woman. The two batter and throw each other around. Lucy straddles the woman and jams a gynecological tool down her throat and she injects her with a potentially lethal drug. Lucy also straddles a man and repeatedly punches him in the face ‘til he’s bloody. Lucy herself ends up battered and covered in blood pouring from an open wound in her head..
Lucy cuddles an aborted fetus. She throws two infants out a window (though they float up into the sky in a Peter Pan-like manner). During a fetal reduction abortion procedure, blood spreads out across the screen like a living thing. We’re shown a photo of an apparently deceased baby with forceps wrapped around his head and blood streaming from his eyes. Another birth photo shows a baby connected by umbilical cord to an open c-section incision. Lucy smashes up cabinets in a medical office.
Four f-words and one s-word join 10 misuses of God’s name.
Lucy mentions that she hasn’t had a drink for two years, but her husband compels her to take a sip of champagne after she becomes pregnant.
When Lucy starts displaying signs of anxiety, Dr. Hindle gives her a prescription for Xanax. While in someone else’s bathroom, Lucy spots another woman’s prescription bottle.
Someone moves to inject Lucy with a drug. It’s implied that it will be harmful but “painless.” Lucy eventually injects someone else with the needle and they immediately fall to the ground.
We see Lucy sitting on the toilet urinating late at night. (The camera examines a pregnancy test wand, dripping urine.) All the men in Lucy’s life (including her co-workers) are inconsiderate, self-focused jerks. All of them, for instance, psychologically manipulate her and they suggest Lucy is suffering from “mommy brain” at one time or another. We are shown numerous images of placental afterbirth, one with an attached dead fetus. Lucy vomits after getting pregnant.
[Spoiler Warning] During an insemination procedure, Dr. Hindle injects Lucy with a large needle full of semen. Later we find out that the injected semen wasn’t her husband’s. Lucy finds a file that states that she is a part of a special program that she didn’t sign up for, and she finds pictures proving that she’s been followed and spied upon. In fact, she eventually finds out that a number of trusted people aren’t exactly who they say they are.
It’s said that the thing that makes horror movies work is … us. Those movies rely on our built-in, organic fear of blood and guts, bodily harm and monsters.
Pregnancy—if looked at from a particularly negative perspective—has pretty much all of those elements already built in. You definitely have blood and bodily fluids in the mix. Women are confronted with physical change, great pain and potential danger. And then there’s all those meanie monster men—from doctors to husbands to co-workers—trying to control and manhandle a woman and her body.
On paper, then, False Positive oughta fit into a horror niche as easily as a creepy doc in a bloody lab coat. And in some ways, it does.
Lead Ilana Glazer is able to convey a believable worried uncertainty about her physical changes, tangled emotions and shifting mental state. And if the tale had been played or scripted differently, this could have been an uncomfortable psychological drama worth watching.
That potential film, however, doesn’t make it to the screen. This version veers from being bloody to being superfluously sleazy at times. We watch a fetal reduction abortion procedure and are left with borderline-ridiculous and goopy horror tropes. This pic ends up feeling unnecessarily slimy.
I’m not a doctor. Nor do I play one on TV. But I’ll make my assessment as clinical as possible: being positive about False Positive would, in my opinion, be decidedly false.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.