Horror Releases: Lucky (2020) - Reviewed

Women endure a world that devalues their palpable fears and trauma on a daily basis. As a result, it has caused deep-rooted systemic problems, creating an unending cycle of oppression that is challenging to break.  In the horror thriller Lucky, we see this cycle played out in a more literal way than most films, and it’s an interesting exercise in dark absurdity.

May (Brea Grant) is a struggling author whose book Go It Alone is meant to inspire fierce independence in people, but isn’t connecting with readers.  While she seeks inspiration for her new book, a mysterious man (Hunter C. Smith) shows up in her home and tries to kill her.  While this is bad enough, it’s made worse by the fact that it becomes a nightly occurrence, anytime she seems to kill the intruder, he disappears before police arrive, and her husband Ted (Dhruv Uday Singh) acts unbothered by the entire situation, simply stating, “That’s the man. The man who comes to our house every night and tries to kill us,” while he casually grabs a golf club to defend himself.  Everyone May turns to for help acts similarly, constantly downplaying her situation and reacting with skepticism.  Much like her book title, it appears May has to “go it alone” to get to the bottom of this distressing series of events.

The premise alone sets Lucky up to be an intriguing psychological film, but there’s more than that underneath the surface, which elevates it to an experimental level of filmmaking.  It is a pure metaphor from beginning to end, never seating itself in reality for too long and culminating in an especially surreal climax.  Director Natasha Kermani understands the intended tone of the film quite well, and all of the supporting actors’ performances have a subdued satirical slant to them that allow the audience to understand that it’s never quite rooted in reality as we know it.

In this metaphorical film, there is a strong feminist message about how topics like domestic violence aren’t taken seriously by certain people and members of law enforcement, who choose instead to gaslight women who suffer these experiences rather than hold the abuser accountable.  She is quite literally being forced to relive trauma every day, and despite having real bruises and cuts to show as proof, nobody does anything constructive to help her.  She is forced to fight her attacker alone every night in her home, just like victims of domestic violence are forced to to live with their abusers, oftentimes with very little support surrounding them.

While Lucky succeeds in the metaphor it conveys, the storytelling surrounding it is lackluster.  It is so enamored with the overarching idea of the film that it somewhat falls short in its execution.  Mostly comprised of murder attempt after murder attempt — and then padded with some police discussions and May’s efforts to make her home more secure — it becomes a one-trick pony relatively quickly.  Up until the climax, it’s “lather, rinse, repeat,” which gets old even despite the short running time.  The script (written by lead actress Brea Grant) doesn’t help matters either, spelling out the absurdities May experiences rather than letting them speak for themselves at times.  This easily could have been a far more engaging short film, and its message might have been more powerful in that format.

Lucky is a great film for those who don’t mind abstract films with singular ideas, but outside of the complexities that surround the heavy topic of female abuse and the creative ways it is explored on the screen, there’s not much substance to maintain interest here.  Check it out if you can see past simplistic plots and rough storytelling.

--Andrea Riley