★★★★ out of ★★★★★
May (Brea Grant) is an author who finds herself under repeated attack by a mysterious would-be killer. She mounts successful defense after successful defense, but each time she wins, the assassin disappears. It’s an exercise of frustration and futility for May as nobody believes her and her proof proves to be elusive.
Directed by Natasha Kermani
Even in the era of the Me Too movement, it can be exceedingly difficult for women to be taken seriously when they have to report physical threats, not just to the authorities, but also to their inner circle of friends and family. Lucky is a movie that was inspired by the life experiences of actor/writer Brea Grant, who had to deal with a stalker at her home. In an article with Syfy Wire, Grant stated:
Sadly, what I really learned through all of it was that having a guy show up to your house or do something inappropriate or make you feel unsafe is just par for the course when it comes to being a woman. That inspired me to write a story in which this is a universe where it is just normal for women to have to fight for their lives every day.”Brea Grant, in Syfy Wire
Grant plays May, an author who writes small business motivational books, with an emphasis on self reliance for women in the workplace. She arrives home exhausted one evening after dealing with her publisher prior to a public book signing gig. That night, while sleeping, she and her husband, Ted (Dhruv Uday Singh) are woken up by an intruder in their house. Eventually, after investigating the situation, May finds herself cornered by a masked man, but is rescued by Ted who concusses him by surprise.
When May insists that they call for help, Ted is surprisingly nonchalant about the situation. She then turns around and finds that the man has disappeared, and then Ted reveals to her with a shrug that, “That’s the man who comes every night and tries to kill you.”
May is stunned. What is he talking about? Her husband decides that he can’t handle when she is like this and decides to leave her to handle the situation claiming “I’ll come back when you’ve calmed down.” Now abandoned by Ted, May informs the police about the situation, who when questioning her keep coming back to their premise that it’s a domestic dispute, and where is her husband?
The following night, the masked man (Hunter C. Smith) shows up again, a lean man with a translucent mask and a dapper sports coat. She initially flees and manages to catch him off balance and pushes him over a railing to the foyer below, but when she gets to where his body should be, all that remains is a blood stain. The police come again, and are even more dismissive this time.
What’s more, she can’t seem to raise Ted. He’s gone AWOL, and all attempts to find him fail. She and her publishing assistant press on with her publishing meet and greet, but May is sleep deprived, and realizes that all of her promotion of sisters doing it for themselves is ringing a bit hollow to her own ears now.
The attacks come, night after night, but she is able to always get the upper hand out-slashering the invading creep. And no matter what she tries, the response is always a dull pastiche of the same misguided questions, and a general lack of alarm. A revelation comes to her that she might not be alone in her struggles, but it doesn’t actually solve anything, and the danger just continues to mount in what feels like a reductive trap that she can’t escape from.
The collaboration between the director Kermani (Imitation Girl) and Grant’s writing captures the raw frustration of having your fears ignored and dismissed. Even when May finds common ground, and her experience is not unique, the premise is that each woman is being isolated and has to win her own battles. The palpable “You aren’t listening to me!” refrains echo off the sides of the film.
Though not quite a causal time loop conundrum like Groundhog Day, Happy Death Day or The Obituary of Tunde Johnson (an excellent film also featured on Nightstream), this film has a bit of the rinse and repeat tendencies of the time paradox movies. In this scenario, time is not changing or being re-set, but the incidents do repeat… night after night. I think the film could have tightened up a bit, and that there may have been one too many incidents, leaving the movie a bit padded, the shock value is diminished. The conditions surrounding the intrusion don’t change too much between attacks, but perhaps that’s the point.
The exasperation of not being able to have the evidence ready also plays a major factor, with the would-be killer’s body disappearing as soon as the audience looks away from the scene of the crime. There are some solutions like having your camera-phone ready, or the installation of security cameras would seem to have made sense. You get the real autobiographical perspective here. Despite all of May’s best efforts, these crimes will fall on deaf ears. This is the film embodiment of frustration incarnate.
May is a fine protagonist, and there’s no need to try and have the actress interpret the scene because she actually wrote it. Singh is essential in his enigmatic unperturbed portrayal of Ted. He loves his wife, but he just doesn’t understand what the (obvious) big deal is. He’s a stand-in for every well-intentioned friend who isn’t there when you need him the most.
Grant is becoming something of a Renaissance woman. She started out her career as a young actress in the television version of Friday Night Lights, and then moved on to do Heroes and then Dexter on HBO. Her experience on Heroes led her to write comic books, and her graphic novel Mary: The Adventures of Mary Shelley’s Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Granddaughter was featured on Nightstream’s celebration of comic book horror. And, if that wasn’t enough, her feature film directorial debut just released: 12 Hour Shift, featuring Angela Bettis (May). She just might be the distaff version of Larry Fessenden! (But much better looking… sorry Larry.)
Lucky has been picked up by SHUDDER, and it has been scheduled for a March 4 release. Check out the trailer, below. Lucky would be rated R for violence and language. As a piece of feminist horror in the Me Too moment, it’s a nice date stamp of where we are as a culture.