By Steph Cannon
Every now and then a movie comes along where, as the final credits begin to roll, you find yourself asking “That can’t be the end, can it?” LUCKY, directed by Natasha Kermani and written by lead actress Bea Grant, not only falls into this category, it’s foundation seems to be built on making you feel precisely that way.
The premise is straightforward and unveiled early on. Self-help author May, on the cusp of releasing her latest book, seems to be living a rather ordinary life with her husband Ted. That is, until one night she discovers a creepy masked man attempting to break into their home, and wakes her husband to alert him. Ted, who up until this point is portrayed as a reasonable, attentive partner, is inexplicably dismissive and passive as May desperately begs for his aid in this matter. “That’s the man who comes to our house every night and tries to kill us”, he tells her, following it up with a disconcerting “well actually, tries to kill you.”
With that statement, we are launched into the bewildering, metaphorical mind-meld that morphs into May’s reality for the rest of the film. Despite Ted’s baffling behavior, they are able to subdue the masked man, whose body then promptly disappears. It feels very reminiscent of a Michael Myers -type slasher, but we soon discover that it is just a veneer for the layers that are slowly revealed throughout the 85-minute runtime. The police are called, and an odd interview takes place where Ted informs them that he’s never seen the man before, despite the fact that he had told May earlier that he’s there every night.
May’s temperament is exactly what you would expect; she’s shaken, frightened, and angered by Ted’s demeanor and treatment of the situation. They argue, and after slinging several belittling remarks towards May about her sanity and making it clear he feels she’s overreacting, Ted storms out.
In vain, she attempts repeatedly to contact Ted, even reaching out to his sister, who also seems to have the same monotone, apathetic responses that he does. She quickly realizes she has to take her own advice and deal with this on her own, which is an ironic embodiment of the title of her latest book “Go It Alone.”
Like clockwork, the masked man shows up at her home every night. Each time, May is able to defeat him with relative ease, and his body disappears immediately just as it did that first night. We then watch as the police arrive, take her statement, and remark on how she is “lucky” to have survived. As this scenario loops night after night, she attempts to outsmart the masked man with different approaches to either identify him or apprehend him, only to be thwarted over and over.
As all of this plays out, May’s mental state begins to understandably unravel. She’s been abandoned by her husband, her Sister-in-Law appears to be withholding information, and every other man she interacts with appears to be overtly unsympathetic to what she is going through. The title of the film is thrown at her repeatedly - and always by men. May seems to realize this and challenges her agent on that fact when he mentions how she is “lucky” that “Go It Alone” was signed by a publisher, telling him she isn’t lucky, she just worked really, really hard to get that opportunity.
The scope of the movie begins to widen at this point, and we discover that May isn’t the only woman being terrorized daily by a mysterious masked man. All of this leads us to believe there will be a big reveal, all will be explained, and we will know exactly why and how this is happening to May and the other women. There are bread crumbs placed along the way that are never quite picked up. Odd occurrences where May’s reflection in mirrors moves independently from her and instances of glass items with a single broken shard are shown so pointedly throughout the movie that we are convinced there must be further meaning.
LUCKY is a movie with a strong statement and many different running themes. Is all of this in May’s head? Is this some sort of alternate reality? Is this an allegory for how women are oppressed by men in their daily lives? The answer to all of these could be yes...or could be no. That is solely up to the viewer to decide, and what each person takes away from this could vary wildly.
The build-up is gripping and intense, and Grant’s performance is powerful and believable, but the unanswered questions could all be too much for some, with an ending that ultimately falls flat. LUCKY begins streaming exclusively on Shudder on March 4th.