One of a trio of horror selects acquired by Shudder back in August, Natasha Kermani’s new horror thriller, Lucky, is now set to grace virtual audiences for the first-ever Nightstream, and host to a peculiar story that puts a unique, fresh and mind-boggling spin on the home invasion genre. The film is especially an extra foot in the genre game this year for actress Brea Grant, who’s been making the festival rounds this year for her own directing debut, 12 Hour Shift.
Starring from her own script under Kermani’s direction, you could probably bill Lucky as a The Twilight Zone meets Groundhog Day, as it immerses you into a world unlike what beleagured self-help author and business writer May (Grant) is used to. After coming home from her usual travails, May and husband Ted (Dhruv Uday Singh) find themselves intruded on by a masked man in black, and while it all seems sudden for May, Ted is oddly keen on blowing the incident off as something that routinely happens in normal fashion.
An argument the following morning lands Ted in his car and driving off, leaving May to fend for herself, as she’s forced to go about her daily hustle, come home, and in almost-timely fashion, defend herself against the same attacker who disappears everytime she believes she’s immobilized and maybe even killed him, only for his body to disappear, and to have the same cyclic questions regurgitated by the myopic and unhelpful authorities. As the daily rigmarole begins taking its toll, her constant battle reveals a more introspective truth permeating the oddball world that’s around her, and the enigmatic man in the mask who becomes just as apt to May’s retaliation no matter how much blood she spills killing him.
The first and foremost thing you’ll notice about Lucky is the score by Jeremy Zuckerman, which takes on a playful, almost menacing identity at key moments. At the forefront of the film are the performances themselves, which, accompanied by Grant’s brilliant script, lend a puzzling filter when trying to gauge some of the supporting characters and their seeming coy and often callous behavior, in order to see and decipher not just who’s good and evil, but also, what’s real and what isn’t. It’s the kind of misdirection that can easily frustrate a viewer if not done right, and to their credit, Kermani and Grant translate their vision amply well, with puzzling intrigue throughout.
The stunt and fight scenes, coordinated by Helena Barrett, are exciting to watch as the scuffles escalate between May (doubled by Kate Cochran) and “The Man” (Hunter C. Smith), with the killer routinely changing his routine, and even his methods to a degree, forcing May to go to the hardware store to buy the essentials she thinks she needs, save for a peculiarly-shaped piece of glass on the table.
With Lucky, you get a story that mingles challenging gender norms in a fantastical setting, with questions of affirmation in the wake of past mistakes, imploring the importance of seeing past these things going forward in life. The added spectacle of seeing the role of May trapped in her own purgatory of sorts where other women are facing a similar battle – including some with tragic results, brings a whimsical appeal and fun to its nerve-wracking, brutal, gory, nightmarish and wacky allure.
Lucky is as energizing as it is bizzare, and thus, a terrific way in to discussions tackling gender norms through creating mind-bending genre cinema, starring a tough female lead, interesting characters and direction, with plenty of the red stuff to suit your horror movie needs.
Nightstream 2020 runs through October 11! Click here for details!
Chelsea Davenport, Patrick Ewald, Kimberly Hwang
Brea Grant, Hunter C. Smith, Yasmine Al-Bustami, Dhruv Uday Singh