By Autumn Whipple, MoreHorror.com, Lucky is currently streaming on Shudder and will be available on VOD, Digital HD, and DVD on August 3, 2021, from RLJE Films.
Directed by Natasha Kermani (Imitation Girl, Shattered) and written by Brea Grant (12 Hour Shift, DEXTER) who also stars in the lead role as May, along with Dhruv Uday Singh (“Good Trouble”), Kausar Mohammed (What Men Want), Hunter C. Smith (Alien Expedition), and Kristina Klebe (Hellboy).
In LUCKY, life takes a sudden turn for May (Grant), a popular self-help book author, when she finds herself the target of a mysterious man with murderous intentions. Every night without fail, he comes after her, and every day the people around her barely seem to notice. With no one to turn to, May is pushed to her limits and must take matters into her own hands to survive and to regain control of her life.
The premise of Lucky is philosophically interesting, on paper. The cinematography is crisp and the movie moves along at a slow-medium pace. For the most part, LUCKY works, but there are some flaws that I haven't seen pointed out from most reviews. I'm surmising the reason for this is that many writers are quick to champion female-directed, written, and centric movies. In the quest for inclusion and making sure the importance of female-driven stories are represented, we don't want to overlook critiques of the film itself. That's just a disservice to all filmmakers, especially females.
I felt the pacing of the film to be lacking (the multiple attacks started to drag on), and the dialogue could have been tightened up a bit, and presented more naturally the way people actually communicate with each other. It was difficult to tell when the story was intentionally nonsensical vs. when it wasn't supposed to be. I liked that the story focused on female empowerment, as May decided to stand up to her attacker night after night, but when does standing up for oneself overshadow the logic and danger of a particularly dangerous situation?
It would have been safer for May to go and stay with a friend because it's all fun and games - and great fantasy to take on a killer yourself, but, is it a sensible thing to do? Should one maybe hire some security, or go stay with a friend or family member for safety? They did offer. I'm guessing that in this instance, the fantastical situation garnered such a badass who was able to fight off and defeat the attacker every night that she did just that (even though it was pointed out that he was stronger than her, she was still able to fend him off).
So, if she was capable, I suppose why not keep kicking his ass, and destroying him? Why not, right? However, then...he would disappear. Like, again and again, and again. Where did he vanish to? Why is she not more bothered with the fact that the body simply vanishes into thin air than she is other people not "understanding" her? I was certainly perplexed.
I found it a bit odd that she didn't step back and think, you know, rationally - that perhaps this person really isn't, er, real? It would be one thing if it were truly occurring, but obviously, it wasn't really happening in the human plane of existence in the case. This take has absolutely nothing to do with believing or not believing a person, there are just usually corroborating facts to support a true home invasion - that occurs every single night - by the same invader - who vanishes after being vanquished. I think it's absolutely crucial to believe a victim and to try to understand how a person feels, even if their mental illnesses are blurring reality. I don't think she necessarily should be invalidated, even though there is no proof showing these invasions are truly occurring. On the other hand, she did not need to be placated to by her husband, friends, first responders, and law enforcement - like she was. They admittedly knew what was really going on (or at least that was heavily implied), but they refused to tell her. Why?
I've read several reviewers point out that they weren't "listening to her", and the character mentioned that as well. I think they were listening to her, but not about what she was actually telling them that was occurring in her perceived reality. They just seemed to know the factual truth of the situation (maybe they did, maybe they didn't). Perhaps she was seeing things, I mean, she most likely was, right? Because the killer's body kept disappearing, over and over and over - sometimes right as she was staring at it. My opinion is that she was most likely traumatized during a real attack in her life, which a detective pointed out to her and she said "how did you know that, I never told anyone about that." (I won't mention the specifics of the attack because I don't want to post too many spoilers).
It seemed to me that all these people (police, EMT, etc.), continually coming over every night (and sometimes in the day) to her house after she'd been attacked again, knew what really happened. Instead of being straightforward with her, she was placated too, condescended to, and was told what they thought she needed to hear, everything except for the truth I guess. If this in fact was all in her head because of PTSD or mental issues, these friends and professionals should have assisted in getting her in getting some mental health help instead of possibly pulling what felt like a "50 First Dates movie maneuver" on her. Honesty and understanding, that's what people truly need. There's also the possibility that she is dreaming or even in an institution having these episodes over and over again following a horrible attack. That's also interesting to think about, though the ending of the film felt a bit ambiguous.
The other critique I have is the movie score. Unfortunately, it pulled me out of the world. What was most likely meant to seem disjointed and sinister, ended up feeling like a music box of sorts or circus music. Capturing the tone of a film with music is extremely important, and I just think the correct direction of this score (cinematic pads, chatter violins, eerie drones, etc.) could have upped the tension and dread that this film was trying to convey.
All that being said, LUCKY gave me some things to ponder about reality, friendships, female empowerment, and the different ways that men and women process fear. I think this movie will resonate differently with a lot of people, so go check it out for yourself.