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Monday, August 24, 2020

[Fantasia Review] ‘Lucky’ Uses Horror as Personal Metaphor

If anyone has their life together, it’s probably an author of a self-help book. The cool confidence and know-how wisdom needed to give readers advice to apply to their own lives can only come from someone entirely in control of their destiny. At least, perhaps its more suggestive of someone in need of control. That’s the case with May (Brea Grant), a self-help author whose life suddenly spirals out of her control with all the horrors of that powerlessness.  

Written by Grant and directed by Natasha KermaniLucky introduces May post-success and well into a sophomore slump. She’s exhausted from endless book signings, and she’s struggling to get her next book deal approved. The tension with her emotionally distant husband Ted (Dhruv Uday Singh) is only the beginning of her troubled home life; May finds herself stalked every night by a masked man determined to kill her. Confused by Ted and the authorities’ lukewarm reactions, May is forced to take matters into her own hands.

Lucky applies horror mechanics to heavy metaphor here, and it bides its time in presenting the full picture. Things start small but jarring enough. First, May finds a large shard of glass on her coffee table. That night, she spies a masked figure in her backyard, just before he breaks in and attempts murder. None of this shocks Ted, who calmly tells May this has just become part of their nightly routine. Killer shows up, they stop the killer, and it supernaturally disappears before the police arrive. Of course, they all treat May with skepticism, as if she’s perhaps unhinged by marital woes. The more May is told, “This is just how it is,” as the killer ups the ante, the more her wrath grows, too.

Kermani and Grant seek to flip the woman in peril trope on its head, using it as a basis to explore a woman struggling with a lack of control. May’s inability to successfully steer her career makes for a natural correlation to what’s happening. Still, the more we learn about her, the more it becomes clear that her career is only the tip of the iceberg. Her relationship with her husband and the wedge between them presents the central mystery’s driving force.

While the killer (Hunter C. Smith) shows up and disappears frequently, leaving behind bloody devastation, it’s never about the killer. It’s a physical representation for the horror women endure when targeted by abusers, and, more importantly, how isolating that can be. The aloof, lackadaisical manner in which every person in May’s life- from those closest to her to the social workers tasked to aid her- treat her is the point as is how common that can be. It’s as though the film wants to present May as an unreliable narrative, to add a psychological ambiguity, but there’s never any doubt that what May is experiencing is real. The real question is why, though the answers aren’t always satisfying.

The film’s overarching message only clicks into place in the final act, using its deeply flawed heroine to layout the symbolism piecemeal. May wears her frustrations on her sleeve and harbors some skeletons in her closet that might make her more complicit than she’s willing to acknowledge. When it comes to her relationship with her husband, that is. Grant’s natural affability makes it easy to get on board with a character that could be rendered selfish and unlikable in lesser hands.

That the horror is more a peripheral accent to the narrative’s allegory means that Lucky will likely polarize. The cat-and-mouse chases between May and her masked killer tend to be brief, taking a backseat to her relationships until a more horror forward climax. Grant and Kermani are ambitious in their approach to horror-as-metaphor and offer a personal, layered dissection of May’s life. They aren’t entirely successful on all points, but they do present some harsh truths that’ll hit home if you’re willing to jump on board this uniquely spun genre allegory.

Lucky made its international premiere at the Fantasia Film Festival.



source https://bloody-disgusting.com/reviews/3627920/fantasia-review-lucky-uses-horror-personal-metaphor-embargoed-8-24/

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