May (Brea Grant), an author specialized in female-centric business books, is on a downward slope. Her sales are waning, and her relationship with her husband, Ted (Dhruv Uday Singh), is rocky. One night, a masked intruder breaks into their house. Ted barely blinks an eye. This happens every night, he says. The intruder is here to kill. And as Ted knocks The Man — as he is credited as — to the ground, the intruder disappears into thin air. Every night, the cycle is set to repeat itself — The Man is knocked out, even killed, vanishes, and returns seemingly as a new person.
Lucky comes right out the door as a piece of solid filmmaking. Director Natasha Kermani and cinematographer Julia Swain shoot Grant’s script claustrophobically, with more than faint echoes of Hitchcock. That feeling is furthered by Jeremy Zuckerman’s subdued soundtrack, which, when the masked killer is within vicinity, breaks into what can best be described as an intense homage to Psycho. Kermani never falls into the trap of using those cues for fake scares. Throughout, the movie plays surprisingly restrained within the boundaries of the slasher genre.
Too, the cast gives nuanced performances. Grant strays from the over-the-top hysterical topes genre and portrays May as calm and analytical. More than fearing the killer, she is intensely frustrated with not being believed.
Lucky is unapologetically a feminist parable. I won’t rob anyone from how the movie melds the social aspects with horror motifs, but it works gradually and efficiently. For the viewer, the more visceral feelings lie not with the slasher aspect but rather in the sympathy we feel for May’s uphill battle to be believed. Police, social workers — none of them show any real interest in helping her.
Lucky plays these themes smart. May has made mistakes in her life and has hurt people around her, adding nuances to her character. If anything, it’s easier to emphasize with someone flawed and human. May has been hurt in the past — emotionally and/or physically? We never are told, but suggestions are made. — and these days prefer to deal with things herself. Selfishly at times? Maybe, but also understandable. Life is more complex than movies often like to pretend it is, and Grant has no interest in answering every question. That makes Lucky’s message that much stronger.
It also makes for a movie that outwardly feels like Hitchcock yet says something entirely different than the man who famously feared women ever did.
It’s a fascinating watch, Lucky. It manages to stay as intense — we know the killer is coming — as it remains slow: The way May has to deal with people around her is dreamlike; something from a nightmare. Conversely, it is yet another female-driven horror movie. That shift is something the genre has benefited greatly from over the last decade.
Social horror, as Jordan Peele coined it, is here to stay.
Letterboxd summary: May, a self help author with all the answers, suddenly finds herself stalked by a masked man who mysteriously reappears every night. Even when she kills him. May struggles to get help from the people around her as she fights to stay alive. Is this paranoia, or is she doomed to accept her new reality?
Ratings from around the web
|One Star Classics||5/6|