... an invigorating flourish and strong sense of atmosphere
Going in and judging by the trailer, I was expecting a funny time-loop slasher film. Instead, what I watched was something much deeper and more layered than anywhere near what I anticipated.
Natasha Kermani directs Lucky with an invigorating flourish and strong sense of atmosphere. The horror elements are scary, the dramatic moments are empathetic, and the high-octane climax keeps you at the edge of your seat, holding your breath for the abstract ending. It’s always interesting to see a horror film devoid of the male gaze, focusing more on the emotions of the piece rather than the spectacle, and Kermani’s approach with Lucky doesn’t disappoint.
Penned by Brea Grant, Lucky follows May (played by Brea Grant), a self-help author who discovers she is stalked by a masked man every night that tries to kill her. However, she is able to overpower the masked man and knock him unconscious/dead, but he disappears the second she takes her eyes off him. Unable to report to the authorities, who find it hard to believe her situation, May is caught in a struggle of trying to find help and maintain her own life in the process.
It’s not exactly a time-loop story. To be as non-spoiler-y as possible, the film doesn’t explain its ending in a direct way. The entire premise is more symbolic, portraying what it’s like to experience trauma and having to relive it over and over again without ever successfully finding help. Thematically, the film is strong and with an uneasy ending, but, when it comes to the execution, there are a lot of segments throughout that feel bloated to meet the runtime that clocks in at just 83 minutes. I think this could have been either a really strong short film, or to make it a stronger feature, incorporated more characters and fleshed out the world a bit more. Instead, what we have is a lot of circling around the same idea combined with the same results.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Brea Grant has the best performance here, but unfortunately everyone else falls flat outside of one EMT. Some of it is purposeful, to create a tense atmosphere surrounding Brea Grant’s character, but a major player in the film like Dhruv Uday Singh comes off as two-dimensional with a wooden performance and weak dialogue. Thankfully, most of the film is focused solely on Brea Grant, so the performances of co-stars aren’t as in-your-face.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
The overall visual design of Lucky is the best element of the film, especially in its wild climax. Amazing use of red and blue lights, plenty of foreground/background action, and every location’s set design felt organic. The cinematography really gets you enraptured in the moment, whether it be in a conversation or running away from a killer, and I enjoyed every bit of it.
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
Nothing in the score particularly stuck out to me, but it definitely gets the job done to set the mood. The sound design adds a surreal element to the film to match its cinematography and editing, operating as the glue between every cut and scene to hold the film together. Not only can you see or hear the movements, but the sound design makes sure you feel every emotional cue that goes with it.
Despite its title, Lucky is a film that earns its worth for all the hard work and attention to detail the creators have put in. Sure, some of the acting and pacing could have been improved upon, but this film also brings an interesting discussion topic to the table about the cycle of trauma and has you empathize with it. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this film used as a topic of think pieces in the future, this one included, and hope it gains the traction it deserves!
LUCKY will premiere and debut exclusively to Shudder on March 4th in the US, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as via the Shudder offering within the AMC+ bundle where available.