FANTASIA FEST 2020: ‘Lucky’

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We all know what happens in slashers and home invasion films. It’s a time-tested and true subgenre of horror that brings us creative kills, menacing villains, and a final girl to root for. While there is a formula to them, every now and again a film comes along that embraces and subverts our expectations for a slasher film. And that is precisely what Lucky, the sophomore feature for director Natasha Kermani, does for its audience. Written by Brea Grant, who also stars as the main character May, Lucky blends Groundhog Day and home invasions with a larger story. Lucky was originally slated to launch at this year’s SXSW but instead made its debut at Fantasia Fest 2020.

In Lucky, May, a self-help author who is focused on teaching others how to “go it alone” suddenly finds herself stalked by a masked man who breaks into her home to try and kill her every night. The film opens up just like any other home invasion film, scary sounds causes the main character to wake up her husband, and that’s where the normal stops happening. But, unlike May, her husband isn’t scared. In fact, he seems almost bored with it. While May is panicking, her husband explains that it’s just the man who always breaks in and attempts to kill them in the middle of the night. Refusing to accept this as fact, May continually tries to fight off the killer and pushes her husband to take it seriously. As the nights and fights continue, May struggles to get help from the people around her. May is forced to ask if this is just paranoia, or if she’s doomed to accept her fate and give in to the cycle of violence that begins to move from night time to her everyday life.

With every subsequent night that passes, May becomes both more unnerved and vicious. Living every night as a final girl, May fights back and wins, only for his body to disappear, her call to 9-1-1 to seem fake, and to be questioned again by the same detective who has made his mind up about the whole situation. While May becomes stronger, she doesn’t find strength or empowerment. In moments where you think she should, the threat of having to fight the next day undercuts her success. This is the intention and builds a helpless atmosphere that makes the constant gaslighting that May faces from friends, cops, social workers, and pretty much anyone she tries to explain the issue to the true fear of the film.

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While the masked killer is thrilling at first, the audience becomes numb to his attacks. This isn’t because they aren’t creative moments or because he isn’t intimidating, it’s because you know what will happen. Luckily, Lucky involves other mind-bending elements that swoop in at the moment the killer begins to bore. Because of this, the monotony of the masked-man isn’t a flaw in the film, but rather an excellent use of pacing that moves you into the next section of the story and prepares you for an unsettling shift.

In truth, constantly watching May be gaslit by those around her is the fear that Grant and Kermani rely on and stoke throughout the film. It’s effective and it pushes you to question the events of the film and May’s reality. Lucky succeeds because it uses language that women hear in everyday life to help silence May’s cries for help. She is too erratic, too angry, too scared; May is too much. And the men in the film need her to calm down before she can even begin to receive their help. That cuts you as a viewer, especially as a female viewer.

Overall, Lucky is a phenomenal film that showcases knowledge of home invasion horror and the rules of slashers by how the filmmakers establish and subvert them. Additionally, in the third act that you won’t see coming, the film does the heavy lifting in answering questions but still leaves a door open for important questions.

Lucky will premiere on Shudder in the future, having been bought by the AMC Streaming platform at the start of Fantasia Fest 2020.

Lucky
  • 9/10
    Rating - 9/10
9/10

TL;DR

Overall, Lucky is a phenomenal film that showcases knowledge of home invasion horror and the rules of slashers by how the filmmakers establish and subvert them. Additionally, in the third act that you won’t see coming, the film does the heavy lifting in answering questions but still leaves a door open for important questions.