[Fantasia Digital 2020 Review] LUCKY

LUCKY is the latest film from director Natasha Kermani (Imitation Girl), written by Brea Grant (12 Hour Shift), which centers around a woman who must fight for her life each night against an unknown assailant. The film stars Grant along with Yasmine Al-Bustami (“The Originals”), Kristina Klebe (Hellboy), Kausar Mohammed (What Men Want), Dhruv Uday Singh (“Prodigal Son”), and Hunter C. Smith (The Order).

To best describe the plot, I’ll turn to the official IMBD synopsis: “A suburban woman fights to be believed as she finds herself stalked by a threatening figure who returns to her house night after night. When she can’t get help from those around her, she is forced to take matters into her own hands.”

May (Grant) and Ted (Singh), on the surface, seem like the perfect, loving, LA couple. Successful and young, they are the type of relationship that many of us strive for. However, it doesn’t take long for the viewer to notice cracks within the crevices of their relationship. Something seems off…and at first, it’s hard to put a finger on what exactly that is. Though she’s a self-help guru, May seems guarded and unsure around Ted… and Ted… well, he’s kind of a dick. After their house gets broken into, May, obviously distraught, turns to Ted who is relaxed and unmoved by the situation, as if he’s used to this. After a fight that sets Ted off on his own, May begins to uncover the truth surrounding her nightly visitor.

LUCKY is a film that has stayed with me since my initial viewing. I’m constantly thinking back to moments that may have seem inconsequential at the time, like a piece of broken glass laying haphazardly on a coffee table. The movie title would have you believe that this is a film in which our protagonist is fortunate, something that is repeated numerous times throughout the film by those who come to her aid. But those little clues, those pieces of broken glass and the duality that they represent are more an indication of impending doom. LUCKY is a film that uses abstract imagery and a tightly woven story to bring themes of abuse and gaslighting to the surface. At times hard to watch, it’s a movie that will resonate with many and leave a lasting impact on those who have experienced the damaging effects of abuse.

Brea Grant does a tremendous job of bringing May to life, a character that she has lived with since the inception of the story. May is strong but that strength is tested not just in the context of her relationship and her attacker, but also in how she sees herself and how she interacts with other women. As the story progresses, we learn more about May and the cause of the problems between her and Ted. The film doesn’t shy away from the mistakes that May has made but it also highlights how mistakes don’t justify the horrendous actions brought upon her. It also showcases how guilt can be all encompassing. That said, May, to a point, believes she deserves the treatment she has received but ultimately learns that a mistake doesn’t equate to unjust behavior.

Dhruv Uday Singh elicited such a strong emotional reaction from me during his performance as Ted. He exemplifies a behavior that is commonly brushed past because it doesn’t leave a physical scar. Singh did a phenomenal job of bringing the character to fruition and I’m sure he’s a wonderfully nice guy in real life, but man, I really, really disliked him. He possesses that “I’m a nice guy” persona that makes it hard for people to believe that someone like him could do anything wrong. It reminded me a lot of what’s happening within the horror community, especially in regards to well-known individuals who continue to be outed for that type of behavior. Though the overall story of LUCKY has a more otherworldly presentation, both the film and that example show just how damaging gaslighting truly is.

Besides the stellar performances from our leads, the combination of Kermani’s directing style and Grant’s writing resulted in a film that captures our characters pain in a visually striking way. It will easily find a home within the subgenre of sci-fi/horror, taking cues from series such as Black Mirror. Furthermore, Kermani and Grant have created a monster that is terrifying in the ways in which it hides behind anonymity. That, in and of itself, speaks volumes in how cis-males continue to get away with their transgressions time and time again. Overall, LUCKY is a film that will get people talking not only because of the themes but also for the performances (which includes a musical number and some familiar faces) as well as the gripping execution of the story at the hands of Kermani.

For more on LUCKY, check out our interview with Natasha Kermani and Brea Grant here.



Shannon McGrew
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