Film Notes, Reviews

FrightFest review – Lucky (2020)

My brief notes on Lucky (2020)

Directed by Natasha Kermani (Imitation Girl) and written by star Brea Grant (12 Hour Shift), this looks like a conventional slasher movie but is actually a surreal fantasy on the form – exploring the notion that every woman might be the final girl in an eternally sequelised horror franchise, fighting off a masked attacker every night, spending her days dealing with cheerfully unhelpful authority figures, then going through the whole thing again the next night, beset by an eternally resurrected, faceless assailant who might be the amalgamation of all the men in her life.

May (Grant), author of female empowerment self-help books, tells her husband (Dhruv Uday Singh) that she spots a masked lurker (Hunter C. Smith) in their yard, only to be told that it’s just the man who tries to kill them every night.  After the intruder has been battered off and apparently killed, the corpse vanishes … and the cops, social workers, and other interested parties just treat it all as routine, offering almost no support and leaving May on her own to fend off the killer all over again the next night … and the next.  When her husband leaves, on vague pretext, May feels guilty about the strain she’s put on her marriage, but also starts to notice that other women she knows are sporting scars.

It’s long been a critical commonplace that the slasher film is a battleground for feminist discourse, and this wholeheartedly embraces the underlying woman vs world metaphor, though Grant the writer is smart enough to give Grant the actress a character to play rather than just an archetype.  May is trapped in a Groundhog Day situation, but this pulls back from the solipsism inherent in GD premises by forcing the protagonist to realise that her problems aren’t hers alone – in one startling sequence, an underground car park (primal stalker location from numberless films) is suddenly full of women struggling with their own personal psycho persecutors.

The title is bitterly ironic – May is forever being told she was lucky to survive/get off so lightly rather than benighted for being attacked in the first place.  However, it’s probably a little too soon after that Harry Dean Stanton film (2017) to reuse the title, though the waters have closed over that evil talking dog movie (2004).


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