At the Tribeca Film Festival’s premiere of the new film False Positive, the Knockturnal got a chance to talk to the film’s writer and star, Ilana Glazer, along with other cast and crew
At the Tribeca Film Festival’s premiere of the new film False Positive, the Knockturnal got a chance to talk to the film’s writer and star, Ilana Glazer, along with other cast members including Sophia Bush and the film’s co-writer/director John Lee. The film’s world premiere was held at the Tribeca Film Festival, before the horror-satire from A24 debuts on Hulu on June 25th.
False Positive stars Ilana Glazer as Lucy, a woman who has had troubles conceiving a child, deciding to go to a clinic with her husband (Justin Theroux) which is run by a somewhat sinister doctor (Pierce Brosnan). Lucy begins to think that something sinister is happening in her pregnancy and that her husband has been lying to her about something. Isolated from her friends and family and dealing with stressful work life, Lucy’s grasp on reality begins to slip… or maybe she’s right all along.
False Positive is going to be a hit for anyone who loves a good horror-comedy, and Ilana Glazer is excellent in the lead role. On the red carpet, we spoke to Glazer and more about the making of such a strange and different movie.
Ilana Glazer (‘Lucy’/False Positive co-writer):
You’re following in a pattern of very funny people making very funny movies, along with Jordan Peele and John Krasinski. What makes it fun to make comedy scary and horror funny?
You know, I didn’t set out to do that. It was more the story and the area that John Lee was playing in, and I wanted to play with John Lee. But when we wrote it, we knew we were going in a horror direction, but it felt like a comedy. Because it was these three beats of an idea, and then we subvert the expectation. In False Positive, it’s suspense and social system observations, and then the subversion would be either the release of tension or the building of tension. But structurally while writing, it felt similar to comedy. It was in the shooting that it felt extremely different. Wildly so.
You are now eight months pregnant. Rewatching the film since becoming pregnant yourself, has it changed your views of the movie?
Totally. But it’s more that the movie is rooted in a specific time in my life, which is pre-pregnancy and pre-entering parenthood.
And now you have a movie you can show your kid in 20 years and say “this is kinda about you!”
[laughing] Yes, exactly!
I snuck into the horror movie The Hitcher like a decade and change ago, which you starred in. What’s it like to step back into a horror landscape?
Bush: I will say that, what I really responded to about [False Positive] when Ilana sent it to me, is that she and John really captured psychological horror. They captured what is horrifying about loss of agency and systemic abuse and systemic oppression and gendered oppression, and so many things that they wove into the movie. And what I love about it is that it allows us to muse on where we are failing each other in a society, and to figure out how we can do better. To really poke at what’s happening in Texas, for example, with Greg Abbott’s bill. To examine what the Trump administration was trying to do with women and the rights to their own bodies. You know, those things are real-life horrors, and I think when you can create something like this that is smart and feels insidious in its creepiness, you can really leave people [to] question the systems that allow this type of harm and gaslighting to happen.
Working with a more comedic bent cast and crew doing horror in a new way, was it an interesting tone to find the satire/comedy/horror/whatever like?
Bush: Absolutely, and we really just loved it. There were moments when we felt like, especially early in our on-camera relationship when things were a lot funnier and you could look at it a bit. I think finding the balance of those things feels a bit like choreography. And I think the point of the film, and I think they did such a brilliant job of it, is that it sort of melts sights. Everything starts to fall apart and kind of become misshapen. And I think it’s a testament to Ilana and John for their ability to pull something like this off.
Josh Hamilton (‘Greg’) and John Lee (False Positive co-writer/director)
Can you tell me a bit about the making of the movie? I know it was filmed pre-pandemic but it must be interesting to be back on a carpet for it.
Hamilton: Yeah! I did not dare to hope, but yeah. I’m really curious to see it, because it’s such an interesting [screenplay]. You know, so often when you read a script it seems like it’s written by an algorithm. Like, it could’ve been written by a computer. But this, on paper, the tone of it, I could not figure out where it would be. It’s a thriller but it’s also sort of a satire too. So I’m very curious to see it myself.
You have some really great comedic and satirical writers and directors and co-stars like Ilana Glazer here in False Positive. How is it bending the tones to find the right mindset, to find the humor—
Hamilton: I just did whatever he [John Lee] told me to do. Because he really knew what he was going for. So I think whenever you’re trying to figure out the tone of something, you hope the director knows what they’re doing.
Lee: Usually the script right?
Hamilton: You think the script?
Lee: I think the script, when I read a script for a movie, I usually have my interpretation of it, and then do we agree on it. Right? That’s what you hope when you show up.
Hamilton: That’s what I was saying, you know so often you read a script and it feels like it’s written by an algorithm. But this, I was like “I love the script but I don’t know what it’s actually going to be.” Which is sort of exciting.
Lee: I’ve seen many a movie where the next day I’m like “oh right, I saw that movie.” And even though everything is great, it’s only so good.
There are so many good movies you’ll see and forget, and then you’d rather ones that are different. So I’m excited to see this one as well!
Lee: Thank god!
Zainab Jah (‘Grace’)
Can you tell me a little about your role in False Positive?
Jah: Grace is a very straightforward and honest person, who is very good at her job. And just be careful what you wish for because she will deliver. She will deliver!
It’s a kind of satirical, horror-ish, genre-y kind of movie. What was it like finding the tone on set with fun and funny people?
Jah: It was great to find the tone, it was easy to find the tone actually because it does have some humor in it. It’s very dry, you don’t know where the humor is until you really tune into it. And this is actually really funny. I thought it was a hilarious comedy I was doing until I thought “wait, this is actually a very dark movie.” But it’s still funny!
These interviews have been condensed for brevity and clarity.
False Positive stars Ilana Glazer, Justin Theroux, Gretchen Mol, Zainab Jah, Sophia Bush, and Pierce Brosnan. It’s directed by John Lee, written by Glazer and John Lee, from a story by Lee and Alissa Nutting. False Positive will be on Hulu starting June 25th.