March 9

Review: Lucky (2020)

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Director: Natasha Kermani

Starring: Brea Grant, Dhruv Uday Singh, Kausar Mohammed, Yasmine Al-Bustami, Leith M. Burke, Larry Cedar

Run Time: 83mins

Time loops seem to be all the rage right now. As Lucky has not only been released in the same week as time loop actioner Boss Level but also just a couple of weeks after time-loop rom-com The Map of Tiny Perfect Things. On top of which we had last year’s Palm Springs and horror-wise, it is not so long ago we saw the two Happy Death Day movies. The latter, of which, this movie will draw most comparison to given they are both slasher flicks. Thankfully, Lucky shows enough personality of its own for this not to cause too much of an issue.

Perhaps it is less of a stumbling block is because both director Natasha Kermani and writer/star Brea Grant are less interested in the picture’s conceit than they are with social commentary. The film telling story of May (Grant) who is visited every night by a man who tries to kill her. The twist being she kills him only for him to reappear again and again and for her to kill him again and again.

These kill sequences are both a lot of fun and a neat twist on the old “final girl” formula as we see May develop from being terrified to being enraged that this keeps happening to her to simply being by bored by the inconvenience of it all. Once again this isn’t the point of the film though. If you go in wanting a straight forward mystery narrative that ties up loose plot threads then you will be sorely disappointed.

No, the meat of the movie is the interactions she has with a variety of (mostly) male characters about the attacks. Repeatedly she is gaslighted, victim-blamed, or simply not listen too. As a metaphor for the female experience in a patriarchal world it isn’t subtle but it is definitely effective. Also, several of these conversations are hilarious whether it be with her husband Ted (Dhruv Uday Singh) who keeps saying she is blowing everything out of proportion or her seemingly well-intentioned but incredibly patronising agent (Leith M. Burke) or the oblivious Officer Pace (Larry Cedar) who acts as if he is patiently listening but hears nothing at all.

It plays each of these interactions with a deadpan absurdity that makes the movie’s reality feel adjacent to ours. This deadpan quality is bound to be divisive but, mostly, worked for this reviewer. Particularly in a hilarious climatic scene where May is being cross-examined by a variety of characters, none of whom bother to wait for an answer before asking their next question.

The absurdist quality proves to be a double-edged sword, though. It is certainly entertaining and works with the central metaphor about how it is to feel unheard or to have your word twisted against you that makes it feel like you have entered a Kafkaesque nightmare. However, it can make everything feel glib, which doesn’t feel like a problem for most of the film but does in the last act when we are suddenly expected to take things much more seriously. Unfortunately, between the unearned emotional weight of its closing minutes and the abruptness of the ending, there is a slight sense of disappointment as the credits roll.

Then again, that is only because of the excellence of what has come before. Also, despite its flaws, Lucky more than proved both Kermani and Grant as talents to keep an eye on. This reviewer, for one, eagerly awaits to see where they go next.

Overall: A well-acted, sharply scripted satirical horror that has some fun gory moments, neatly plays with slasher tropes and provides an uproariously acerbic, if unsubtle, social commentary. Even if it falls just short of excellent due to its last minute jarring tonal shift.

7/10

Lucky is now available on Shudder


Tags

absurdity, Brea Grant, Final Girl, Home Invasion, Kafkaesque, Lucky, Natasha Kermani, satire, slasher, social commentary, Surreal, Time Loop


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