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Fantasia ‘20 Review: “LUCKY” Fights For Her Life

Tuesday, August 25, 2020 | Fantasia International Film Festival, Review

Starring Brea Grant, Hunter C. Smith and Dhruv Uday Singh
Written by Brea Grant
Directed by Natasha Kermani

Satires, by definition, do not always follow the rules of nature in our world. They can heighten reality, amplify the absurd, and challenge cultural structures, all in the name of making their argument. LUCKY does all of those things, while keeping true to the emotional experience of women in the world.

May (Brea Grant) is an author struggling to succeed with the sales numbers of her latest book and to get cracking at the next volume. Her business book “Go It Alone” screams of detachment and independence, and seems to have trouble finding its audience. As May is thinking of her next project, a peculiar event happens at night: A masked man (Hunter C. Smith) appears in her garden. Unfortunately, the threat of physical harm to a woman is not the notable part of this occurrence. In fact, the alarming part is that her husband Ted (Dhruv Uday Singh) knows about it, but does not seem alarmed at all. He acknowledges that the man is in fact real, states that the man comes every night to kill them, and he does not see what the big fuss is about. The ensuing fight drives Ted away from May, leaving her to fend for herself.

The next night the man returns and attacks May. She fights him back with a golf club and pushes him down the stairs. Surely this would result in his death. Nope. The man disappears before she can inspect his corpse. The next night, and the next, he returns to attack May and then promptly vanishes. This is still not to say that he is a figment of May’s imagination. Her injuries from his attacks are very real, but every time she kills him, he is gone.

You might think that the scariest thing in this film would be these nightly, violent attacks by a terrifying man in a clear mask, but these are merely the catalyst for the real horror. May does her due diligence, and contacts the police after every attack only to be treated like an unstable woman. Without the body it is understandable that a police officer might question her grasp on reality, but seeing the marks on her body from these assaults should also outweigh their disbelief. This turns into another example of men not believing women, and if it goes on much longer it might cost May her life.

Director Kermani and writer Grant ask a lot of the audience as the third act in the film dips itself into the realm of metatextual absurdity. As reality starts to break down, May’s selfishness emerges and she is not the easiest character to root for. She is flawed and self-serving, which only further complicates her in this web of typical female experience and horrors. However, the emotional thread through this sequence remains consistent, and the understanding of what she is going through remains crystal clear. May does not speak for all women, but she does speak for herself.

“May does not speak for all women, but she does speak for herself.”

Visually, LUCKY is quite a lovely film. The man’s attacks are mostly at night, but the darkness is never so enveloping that you cannot see the action. May and Ted’s house is perfectly laid out to see nearly everything from various angles, giving a clear sense of the space before the attacks start. May herself is often shot through mirror reflections, creatine a trapped Douglas Sirk vibe in her framing, which reflects her lack of traction in avoiding these attacks. None of this cinematic vocabulary ever outweighs the plot or characters, but it does enhance certain experiences subliminally.

While LUCKY uses satire and artistic licence to tell a tale of disappearing bodies and ineffective law enforcement, the terror within is the truth that pokes itself out in the cracks of the absurdity. Women are not listened to when they describe their fear in walking through parking garages or spending the night home alone. Women have to deal daily with strange men and unengaged bystanders. LUCKY forces us to examine this reality within the satire, and the reflection is frightening.

Deirdre is a Chicago-based film critic and life-long horror fan. In addition to writing for RUE MORGUE, she also contributes to BIRTH.MOVIES.DEATH., FILM THRILLS, and HIGH DEF DIGEST. She's got two black cats and wrote her Master's thesis on George Romero.