Have you ever asked a woman what her greatest fears are?...
...Asked what she would do if certain circumstances of society were different? I know what my answers are and, somehow, director Natasha Kermani and writer Brea Grant tapped into both flawlessly with Lucky.
Surreal, poignant, and bitingly feminist, Lucky is the story of self-help author May Ryer (Brea Grant) trying to survive and protect herself from a mysterious figure who sets out to attack her every night following a home invasion. Trouble is, no one around her seems to believe what she’s saying. They aren’t taking her seriously and, on more than one occasion, seem almost to be mocking her. It’s a scathing dissection of a universal yet intimate fear and how hard it is to get people to break away from their preconceived narratives and take you seriously in a world that feels trapped in a twisted cycle of ignored violence.
Women-led horror is an important side of the genre that offers perspectives and angles that would otherwise go uncovered, and Kermani and Grant seem to know the power of bringing such articulate visions of fear to the table. Grant brings a humor and vitality to May that connected with me even more than I expected as she fought to be heard in a crowd of people who had finished listening before she’d even opened her mouth, and fought for her life against a persistent force it seemed only she could see until it was too late. From her style of fighting her attacker to her exasperated facial expressions while she listened to the police repeat the same line for the fourth time in a week, Grant made May realistic and relatable in such a way that I found myself and some of my past experiences in her. Watching her push forward in her never-ending fight for her life, completely aware of the odds—he’s stronger than her, and he’s not afraid to keep coming back no matter what she does—and of what she has to do if she wants to keep going brought a small spark of hope to what is, truly, set up to be a hopeless situation.
More than just presenting a new depiction of an all too common social problem, Lucky is unafraid to examine it from all angles. When May realizes she’s not the only one in the cycle and uncovers the truth of what’s going on she admits to saving her assistant from being attacked because she knew her. It’s much harder to bring ourselves to protect a stranger, even or especially from something we have had to deal with ourselves, and Lucky brings acknowledgement to that uncomfortable truth where other films might try to find a way to save everyone. The film is similarly unafraid to bring to light how truly isolating the experience is, no matter how universal. This person chasing May slowly takes everyone who even marginally listened to her away and leaves her to “go it alone” against him. It’s up to her to decide if she wants to push on and keep fighting.
This film had a point to make and every element of it was geared toward getting that point across. Jeremy Zuckerman’s score, alternating between silence and discordant music that almost makes you feel like you can’t quite get your brain to center, brought a level of unease I hadn’t expected to an already pretty uncomfortable experience and assisted in connecting us more to May’s sense that she doesn’t know the rules of the world she’s living in anymore. The Man’s mask design was equally as effective and more than a little unsettling. There’s just something about clear plastic distorting features just enough that’s far more terrifying than a simple opaque covering. Being almost able to see through it makes you want to focus more, like maybe if you looked hard enough you might be able to distinguish who it is under there, but also brings that uncanny level of discomfort and impersonality inherent to mask wearing that makes the idea of it so dangerous to some and so freeing to others.
Lucky is a vibrant new take on home invasion horror. At once heartbreaking, affirming, and vitally important, it brings a fresh look to an old fear that, while never quite done to death, sometimes feels stuck in a cycle. Brea Grant brings a unique yet relatable spark to the role of victim who won’t go down without a fight in a world trying to force her into a false narrative instead of listening to her words. She reminds us that, no matter how differently we respond to our fears or how tired we may get, our lives are worth fighting for.
Lucky comes exclusively to Shudder in the US, UK, Canada and ANZ, on March 4th.
By Katelyn Nelson