Lucky Movie Review: Shudder Film A Clever Twist On Horror
Brea Grant wrote and stars in the newly available film Lucky. The film feels akin to some other recent movies thematically, both horror and not. (I’m thinking, for example, of the themes discussed in my Promising Young Woman review.) So let’s get into it with my review of the movie Lucky.
Natasha Kermani-Directed Film Is A Mix Of Influences
image via Shudder
Brea Grant stars as May Ryer, an author who’s built a relatively successful career peddling self-help books that preach the gospel of self-reliance. Now she’s in a situation that will put that to the test. She’s already having a bit of a rough time, though. She’s facing a sophomore slump with her next book. Even if she manages to put something on the page, though, that’s no guarantee that her publisher will be interested. That’s not the worst thing going on in her life, however.
One night, when she’s going to bed with her husband Ted (Dhruv Uday Singh), May spots a man in the backyard. Obviously, she reports it to Ted. His reaction, though, is unexpected. He’s like, oh, yeah–that’s the guy who tries to kill us every night. You know how it is. May kills the intruder, but then he comes back the next night. And the night after that. And the night after that. What the heck is going on here?
Well, it’s a mix of things. It’s a home invasion thriller. It’s a meta horror movie. And it’s feminist horror. A time-loop sci-fi! And maybe some other stuff.
Wait, IS This Horror?
As a dedicated mystery/thriller reader, I have one major pet peeve with the genre, and that is misclassification. Sometimes I’ll start reading a book that’s been categorized as mystery/thriller, but my hackles will slowly start to raise. Wait a second, I’ll realize–this isn’t a mystery OR a thriller! This is some boring ol’ general fiction book where people talk about their feelings. (Gross.) There’s just a soupçon of a mystery, enough to get it classified into my favorite genre, but not enough to prevent me from resenting it.
I say all this because I often have the same issue with horror films. Movies will be classified as horror because there are horror elements in them, like blood or demon stuff, but when you think about it–or more specifically, when I think about it, I don’t consider them horror movies. Take, for instance, a (purposely unnamed) movie I watched for possible review recently. I liked the idea of it, the concept behind it, but I just didn’t think it made an effective horror movie. So what about this one?
Lucky Movie Review
image via Shudder
I think I would tend to say the same about Lucky. If you’re looking for a traditional horror movie, then this is not it. Despite the sometimes bloody scenes, this isn’t real horror. It’s never scary in the way you expect when you think about a horror film, either. However, it isn’t ineffective, and it’s scary in a more realistic, visceral way.
That’s because despite May’s befuddlement and growing frustration with her predicament, no one else seems to have an issue with it. Some people, like Ted, treat it as a minor annoyance–just one of those things you have to live with. Others, though, seem to blame May for what’s happening. Or they approach it in a way that seems too casual, too dismissive. The police, for example, repeat the same lines to May, as if they haven’t already had this conversation. They suggest that maybe she’s having trouble with her husband. And they keep telling her to calm down.
If you haven’t guessed already what’s going on, then it’s no real spoiler to tell you. Grant is using the bones of a horror movie to make a statement about the way vulnerable people, particularly women, are treated when they cross the threshold into victimhood. They may endure gaslighting and blame that suggests their complicity in their trauma.
In a similar way, Grant shows how people use the title word to diminish the pain women feel or the work they complete. May is lucky, you see, that the attacks haven’t been worse. And when the publisher is pleased with her new book, that’s also luck. But May, as she’s learning to do the whole film, fights back on that point. It’s not luck, she says firmly. It’s hard work.
Further, May is not a saint in this. The film also examines how May herself enforces these beliefs. Because Go It Alone might be a winning book title, but it’s no way to live. And it’s no way to almost die. Every night.
So to sum up this Lucky movie review, it’s not a traditional horror movie, but it is a clever use of one.
Lucky is currently available on Shudder (if you’re lucky).
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featured image via Shudder
Salomé Gonstad is a freelance writer who grew up in the swampy wilds of south Alabama. When she's not yelling about pop culture on the internet, she's working on a supernatural thriller about her hometown. Also, we're pretty sure she's a werewolf. Email her at email@example.com.