Fresh from the festival circuit (premiering initially at Sundance Film Festival 2020) is the smart and observant Lucky, the subversive slasher genre set in the #MeToo era landing on horror streamer Shudder. The timely film follows in similar footsteps to recent feminist thrillers, shining a light on the harassment and dismissal women face on a daily basis.
Directed by Natasha Kermani, Lucky centres on popular self-help author May (Brea Grant) who finds herself the target of a mysterious assailant who attacks her and her husband Ted (Dhruv Uday Singh), after breaking into their home at night. Her husband calmly informs her that the intruder comes every night to try to kill them and without fail, he visits again with murderous intentions. Following disbelief and dismissal from the police, along with deflection and acceptance from family and friends, it’s up to May to take matters into her own hands and fight back to regain control of her life.
Lucky is a bold and timely sophomore feature from Iranian-American filmmaker Kermani, who impressively creates a surreal but believable version of our own world. Featuring a very timely take on the home invasion horror, with an added feminist twist on the time loop narrative as May endures these violent actions on a cyclical basis. This cycle of violence symbolises the real life horrors women all too often face, whether that’s experiencing misogyny in the workplace, living in fear of aggression when walking home at night or trapped in abusive relationships. May experiences dismissal by the police over her account of the attack, while her boyfriend merely accepts the new reality, “I can’t change this. This is just how things are.” Kermani weaves a profound commentary on gaslighting and violence against women throughout the slasher horror elements, which would make a great accompaniment with The Invisible Man, The Columnist and Promising Young Women.
With a lean runtime of 83 minutes, the pacing is punchy with no time for fluff or filler. Events are incredibly engaging, filled with a creeping tension and growing unease. When the action and violence finally kicks in, it certainly doesn’t disappoint – with the initial nighttime attack ramping up the suspense, particularly when you spot the creepy Jason Voorhees-esque assailant in the garden cleverly framed in the background of a shot. There’s a real horrible unease to the film, particularly as May prepares and anticipates for the nightly attack in the day, using a number of different weapons in the scenario, which is shown from different angles. The chilling final act in a darkly lit car park will indeed shock due to a surprise revelation, with the attacks well choreographed, however the abrupt reveal at the end does feel somewhat underwhelming.
Brea Grant (12 Hour Shift) is fantastic as the popular self-help author, joining the ranks of other strong female characters in the Final Girl genre. Grant brings a nuanced performance, undergoing a real transformation throughout event, portraying confusion, frustration, anger and eventually embracing her strength through solidarity. You quickly align with the character and will her to survive against the odds, particularly following the rude comments and dismissal from the male figures in her life. It’s so easy to relate to the character, with some of my past experiences in a particularly male-dominated industry leading to discrimination and similar ‘lucky’ remarks. It’s just a shame that the other performances don’t quite live up to Grant’s high standard.
Lucky is a smart and thrilling take on the slasher film, complete with sharp feminist commentary designed to ignite discourse around the timely topic.