Lucky is a surprisingly substantive film, particularly given its slight runtime, but suffers from spoon-feeding viewers its messaging.
A masked man breaks into the home of a seemingly happy and well-adjusted couple. She is appropriately terrified; he seems nonplussed by the events, explaining that it happens every night, and that once they incapacitate the intruder, he will vanish. He is right. So what the hell is going on here? That is the central hook of new horror-thriller Lucky, written by and starring Brea Grant. Shades of Happy Death Day color the first-half, as wife May must come up with elaborate ways to kill the stranger each subsequent night, especially after hubby goes AWOL following a bad fight. It’s appropriate, then, that May has literally written the book on modern-day female empowerment, authoring an ethos that women must go it alone if they are ever to truly face their fears. The subsequent metaphor, then, practically writes itself. However, as new wrinkles begin to emerge, the viewer is forced to reassess the true intent of Grant and director Natasha Kermani. The film’s initial playfulness gives way to a searing, righteous anger at the notion of women doomed to victimhood, forever trapped in a cycle of fear and doubt, questioning what they did to deserve such misery, brainwashed to believe they must endure it alone. It makes sense, then, that men are portrayed as sniveling, ineffectual babies who bolt at the first sign of trouble, complaining of hurt feelings.
With a lean running time of 80 minutes, Lucky surprisingly has a lot on its mind. It’s only too bad that the filmmakers assume the audience needs to be spoon-fed the message, practically stopping the film dead in its tracks to articulate its every thought and feeling. Sure, perhaps that’s the point — that it’s 2020 and we are still having this conversation proves that the message is not sinking in, and maybe those who most need to hear it have no time for arty pretense. But Grant and Kermani try to have it both ways, to the point that once we finally get to the ending, the tone has veered dangerously close to one of sermonizing. There’s no denying that the film is a compelling watch, with Kermani even deploying the overused Dutch angle to surprisingly successful effect — the film’s bookstore scene proves a stand-out. In any case, Lucky is certainly an improvement on Grant’s previous film, the just-released 12 Hour Shift (which she also directed), which managed only to be obnoxious in its all-out pursuit of cleverness. Lucky at least has its head in the right place, and while good intentions alone are never sufficient, given the other considerable strengths on display, it’s almost enough.
You can stream Natasha Kermani’s Lucky on Shudder beginning on March 4.
Originally published as part of Nightstream 2020 — Dispatch 3.