Directed by: Natasha Kermani. Starring: Brea Grant, Hunter C. Smith, Kristina Klebe. Runtime: 1hr 21 min. This film had its World Premiere at Fantasia Film Festival on August 23.
Lucky, directed by Natasha Kermani and written by and starring Brea Grant, follows a self-help author named May Ryer (Grant). One night, a masked man breaks into her house one evening and her husband Ted (Dhruv Uday Singh) talks about the incident like it’s something they can’t change and shouldn’t bother to change, he’s just a man who breaks into their house every night. This revelation of it happening every night is peculiar and funny, if confusing to May, as the man (Hunter C. Smith) comes back every night to attack May.
At first, I thought the satire here was about having a situation stay the same if you’re not willing to change it. This is part of the commentary, as the film’s also about facing our fears, but Brea Grant eventually adds a more powerful layer that gives the film some added relevance. Without spoiling it specifically, May gets tormented every night and goes to the cops and gets the same answers and empty advice every time. The repetitious nature of the film – get attacked, get told “you’re fine now,” repeat – is the point of the commentary.
When it satirizes horror, it’s offering an opportunity for May to prepare for battle every night; and also satirizes how horror icons like Jason Voorhees are basically invincible and get up and just walk away at the end of every film. That’s just May’s life. Grant has a strong presence as May as a self-help author who has to learn to help herself. It’s also a bit ironic that she’s a self-help author because she doesn’t appear to like people all that much. Regardless, Grant plays the character well.
I loved the beginning of this film as the script started out with its premise of a masked man attacking every night. Some moments in the first 20 minutes are legitimately creepy. (I also watched this during a thunderstorm so that added to the ambiance.) The idea of this film is so strange that I couldn’t help but be intrigued as to where it was going. There’s such an unpredictability to it because it’s never clear if it’s a Groundhog Day scenario or if it’s supernatural, and it seems to have elements of both. It’s likely neither, as it’s impressive how strongly this film is grounded in some sense of reality while being so bizarre.
Director Natasha Kermani’s vision always keeps this on track and there are some cool shots here. She and cinematographer Julia Swain find creative ways to shoot every fight so they’re not the same fight twice, and they’re generally fun (and well-scored by Jeremy Zuckerman). However, and this is where the pacing hurts the film, it gets frustrating after awhile because after every fight the Masked Man just leaves and goes through that cycle of bad advice again. The problem is never solved and it never advances the plot. It’s stuck in this cycle for a long point, and again that’s the point of the film, but it just drags.
It picks up again in a strong way when a new revelation comes in the last 25 minutes. It’s intriguing again because it’s so smartly written and leads into a really cool scene in a parking garage where every best facet of Lucky’s filmmaking – from Kermani’s direction, to Swain’s cinematography to Grant’s writing and acting – gets to shine. Lucky is also such a unique spin on the home invasion horror/thriller that, if your favourite part of these kinds of films is the tension of the fight between invader and home-owner, you’ll get that at least 12 times.