Lucky (2020) is an intriguing film from the director Natasha Kermani and writer/star Brea Grant. The opening of the movie sets up May (played by Grant) as a strong female character with suggestions of insecurity, as she checks the locks and sees cracks appearing in things around her, arriving home to her husband in a peaceful suburb.
That night a stranger comes into the house and attacks them, suggesting that we are in the territory of typical home invasion horror movies such as The Strangers (2008) and, for a split second, my heart sank. In my mind was floating the expression ‘…and here we go, yet again’ but very quickly this sense evaporated.
What have we got here?
This movie is definitely not the home invasion horror you’ve seen before. It’s not ‘scary’ in the archetypal sense, and doesn’t employ the traditional jump scares and creepy settings. It does, though, take other tropes from this genre; most significantly in the attacker coming at night and a good use of shadows, but what we have here is a surreal thriller.
From the moment that her husband (Dhruv Uday Singh) casually states that the attacker comes every night to try and kill them, we know that things are not going to develop in a predictable manner. This is just the first time when the film steps away from the cliches we would normally expect.
A feminist thriller at last
Bea Grant gives a very strong performance as May; she stands up for herself and never backs down. Her struggles seem to come from the people around her rather than the attacker. We are presented with an idea that women are struggling to be taken seriously in a world dominated by men.
This message is reinforced in a confrontation May has with her agent (Leith M. Burke). He describes her as ‘Lucky’ in her life, and she retaliates that it is her hard work which has made all that she has possible.
It is no surprise that, behind-the-scenes, the driving force was Bea Grant herself as the writer and the film having a female director.
Fresh and original or rip off?
The idea of an attacker who seemingly can’t be killed is something which any horror enthusiast will be familiar with. In fact the attacker coming back when presumed dead is one of the least original jumps which we frequently see in horror movies. Here it is not limited to the final moment as the attacker keeps coming back when seemingly defeated. The fact that he is killed so easily does remove the ability of the movie to frighten the audience, though the way he disappears and then returns does raise the element of mystery around the movie.
The movies which really came to mind whilst I was watching were Groundhog Day (1993) and Happy Death Day (2017) but without the comedy element. The repetitive nature of these movies does play a big part here but instead of creating laughs it is used to highlight the inescapable world in which these women live.
The final judgement
The film has a strong lead actress and writer in Bea Grant, which is lucky (pardon the pun) as she is never off screen. The movie draws you into the sense of mystery well and holds your attention throughout. Scares have been lost so that the focus instead falls on the central message but that is fine when the message is this strong.
Overall Lucky (2020) is a much better film than I initially expected; the first few moments suggested that this may be just another dull retread of tried and tested horror. What I enjoyed, however, was an intriguing and thought-provoking surreal thriller.
IMDb rating: 5.3 | Film Forums: 8.0
Artwork & Editor: Richard Williams
Stills: Exile PR / AMC Networks