With slasher movies, we’re accustomed to the image of a masked individual chasing women with sharp instruments. If we’re not rooting for the killer to bump off the promiscuous couple in the shed, we’re standing behind the tried-and-true “final girl” to deliver the final blow, at least until the killer inevitably gets back up for another sequel. In its own surreal way, Natasha Kermani’s ‘Lucky” tries something similar.
As a mysterious masked man (Hunter C. Smith) walks up the stairs, a frightened May (Brea Grant) pushes him over the railing. It doesn’t matter though, because once she reaches for her phone, the man is gone. All that’s left is a pool of blood on the hardwood floor — that is, until next time and the time after that. May is shown to be trapped within a surreal, cyclical loop where the elusive killer disappears but the wounds and trauma remain in his place.
Akin to Emerald Fennell’s “Promising Young Woman,” “Lucky” exists as a reckoning of oft misguided phrases and questions used to gaslight women; in this case, it’s with commonplace violent or stalker scenarios. Its message is on the nose, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing here. With it being a surreal spin on the slasher movie, “Lucky” provides an opportunity to view the on again, off again nature of the typical movie stalker in a whole new light. Sometimes over-clarification can be useful for those who have a narrow perspective toward the terrible things May experiences and who are potentially part of the problem.
“Lucky,” at times, acts as a catharsis for the women who carry this burden of constant, abject fear which is systematically undermined at every available turn. In addition to starring in the film, Brea Grant also wrote “Lucky.” And if there’s one thing that I can glean from her work, it’s a sharp sense of humor with dark subjects. She made her feature directorial debut last year with “12 Hour Shift,” which can best be described as a bloody, madcap neo-noir which sees an exhausted nurse dealing with a bloody domino effect. Though not as bonkers, some of Grant’s observational humor transfers over to “Lucky.” “You didn’t even check on me in the living room,” says May’s husband Ted after the inaugural home invasion.
May’s days of promoting her self-help book “Go It Alone” take a turn when a mysterious man shows up in her backyard one night. She knows that she must face the masked individual, day after day, with no peace in sight. She resides in a strange world that resembles a nightmare, yet it’s achingly familiar. And Grant does great work here conveying the frustration of having to face the deadly scenario — and the questions that inevitably follow — day in and day out.
The killer wears a clear, transparent mask . To make it too memorable would be missing the point. Films like Leigh Whannell’s “The Invisible Man,” placing the power with a central woman survivor, have given us an opportunity to re-examine the way we deconstruct slasher villains. When the actions of your movie villain resemble the all too real monsters of the world, it can be difficult to want to emulate their look. In “Lucky,” transparency is the point.
Jeremy Zuckerman’s score resembles a spiritual blend of Henry Manfredini’s string-heavy work on “Friday the 13th,” and Jon Brion’s experimental rhythm in “Punch-Drunk Love.” Julia Swain’s calculated cinematography gives Kermani’s film some visual flair, notably in the second half, which sees “Lucky” unravel itself from isolated incidents to a much larger, frighteningly real picture.
“Lucky” straddles the line of loudly stating its message while also coming up light in departments that would make this a more satisfying whole. It’s always on the right track, but it decides to wrap things up that could have used more air to let it breathe out. With all that it wants to say, it comes short of its unique ambitions.
As much as I gleaned from Kermani’s film, I recognize that my perspective is bound to differ from the women who watch May’s repetitive battle and see themselves in her struggle to live safely. “Lucky” has its problems, some more glaring than others, yet still comes out a slick representation of cyclical trauma, and it culminates in an impactful final shot that cuts through the “not all men” hypothetical like it were butter.
Featured Image: Brea Grant in “Lucky” I Courtesy of Shudder
Matt graduated from Keene State College in 2017 with a Bachelor’s in Critical Film Studies. A few of his favorite films include “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “Army of Darkness,” “Before Sunrise” and “Certain Women.” Having already contributed to Bloody Disgusting, ELF Magazine and The Simple Cinephile, Matt aspires to expand and continue writing with various outlets. If there’s any chance to talk about horror films and/or Twin Peaks, he’ll very much jump at the opportunity.