As soon as the credits rolled on Natasha Kermani’s LUCKY, I knew that this film was going to be the next to hotly divide the online horror community. And that’s because LUCKY packs with it a message that is about as blunt as they come, and that message is decidedly feminist, a word that shouldn’t be, but has very much become a dirty word in the recent years. In LUCKY we are introduced to May (played by Brea Grant who directed Graveyard fave 12 HOUR SHIFT which we talk about here) and she’s an unassuming prim and proper self-help book author whose series mantra is “go it alone” that preaches a kind of lone wolf sensibility to her primarily female readers. Her book career has gone from white hot to lukewarm, and so has her marriage to her husband Ted played by Dhruv Uday Singh. May is tired of the book signings, the needy fans, the incompetent assistant, the stress of life as a yuppie, that exhaustion of so-called “easy living”. And to make matters worse, when she’s trying to get some shut eye, into her house barges a masked man wielding a weapon and May and Ted fight for their lives against this intruder.
While May is completely horrified about what has just happened to her, Ted is shockingly cavalier.
May’s bafflement at Ted’s lackadaisical attitude towards her predicament quickly turns into low simmering rage, and their already tedious marriage turns bitter once again, and Ted flees the couple’s home to stay with his sister.
Night after night, May battles the same masked intruder, whose strength grows parallel to May’s frustration and paranoia.
Each night she kills the intruder and each night he seemingly vanishes before her very eyes only to return the following night – making May a kind of Prometheus or Sisyphus – bound each day to be tormented with no mercy. Each time the killer dematerializes the blood stains on the carpet (Annie are you ok?), and the broken ephemera are the only remaining signs that he was ever there in the first place.
As May turns to police and social workers for assistance, she finds them to be bumbling, often portrayed as moronic, incompetent and/or just as dismissive of her concerns as Ted. It is repeated ad nauseaum how “Lucky” May is – lucky for her job, lucky she survived, lucky, lucky, lucky, to the point that I felt like that Britney Spears song would forever be on a loop in my brain.
As May tries to unmask her attacker, by learning his moves like someone desperately trying to conquer a Castlevania level, she finds her plans foiled at every turn. Soon enough, she finds out that she’s not alone in her daily battle against this man, and things spiral out to a metaphor laden ending that spoke to some and infuriated others. This is story that is rife with metaphor about abuse, social injustice, the struggle of women, and the cycle of abuse.
From a technical standpoint, the film is well made. The cinematography accurately portrays the yuppie life of May and the fight scenes are actually quite artfully shot and well choreographed. The score had a few too many over done stings to accompany the more pulse pounding scenes, and I found myself reaching for the remote to turn down certain scenes due to some louder aspects in the finished sound mix. I feel like Natasha Kermani directed a strong film and Brea Grant’s portrayal of May was quite well done – she is a very talented actress. I struggled with the writing as some lines of dialogue felt pithy and unnatural.
At the end of it all LUCKY reminded me of a line from a favourite Bad Religion song that goes ‘your actions speak so loud, I can’t hear a word you’re saying‘. I felt like LUCKY tried very hard to say something important and necessary and fumbled on the final delivery. The wink wink nudge nudge ShockWaves t-shirt on an extra in the background was a bit of a teeth sucking moment for me in amidst all the girl power, given the allegations of sexual harassment against host Rob Galluzzo. The messaging around if you’re a woman you’re basically fucked so enjoy being alone and no one caring also made me uncomfortable. I will absolutely agree that our broken system needs significant work, and that time and again the system fails people it should protect, but I think a knee jerk over generalization painting with broad strokes response that *no one* cares and that all social workers etc are bumbling morons is unfair. I’m going to link this article that details the trauma and secondary trauma experienced by social workers in their jobs, with a positive correlation between case load, trauma-based nature of caseload and years of career being shown to show distinct increases in suicidal ideation, distress at home, interrupted sleep, substance abuse, and more. People *do* care – that’s why most people get into the caring professions – and the broken system like a kind of No-Face bakemono eats enthusiasm and crushes caring under bureaucracy. I fully validate that frustration, I just would have shown that frustration in a different way rather than a cheapshot at people who literally burn out caring for others as I don’t believe those people are the true enemy. At the end of the day I will give points to LUCKY for style and a desire to say something about the roles of women in society, but the film ultimately left me wanting it to have said a lot more.
DIAG RATING 1/6
You can check out more of our Fantasia coverage here:
The Drunk in a Graveyard guide to the TEN FILMS we are most psyched about at Fantasia Fest 2020.
Our interview with Detention (返校) director John Hsu 徐漢強 is here and our review of Detention (返校) can be found here, coverage of THE OAK ROOM, coverage of The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw, coverage of The Undertaker’s Home (La Funeralia) is here, coverage of YOU CANNOT KILL DAVID ARQUETTE is here, Brea Grant’s 12 HOUR SHIFT and Ryan Spindell’s THE MORTUARY COLLECTION can be found on our latest podcast episode, and coverage of Amelia Moses’s BLEED WITH ME, 上田慎一郎 Shinichiro Ueda’s SPECIAL ACTORS, Neil Marshall’s THE RECKONING, short film DOPPELBÅNGER here, as well as our podcast episode on Justin McConnell’s documentary Clapboard Jungle here. And be sure to stay tuned for more coverage coming up soon, and follow our social media to keep up!
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