And so, Lucky, a gigantically ironic title for a film about a woman being stalked night after night in her own home. It stars Brea Grant, who also wrote it, and until recently I’d not heard of her. But there she was just a few weeks back in After Midnight, Jeremy Gardner’s cute, smart, smallscale horror film about a man being stalked night after night in his own home – she played Gardner’s wife – and now here she is in what could be called a companion piece.
Both films make use of the massive film-making infrastructure of the West Coast – technicians who just know how to do stuff quickly and properly – to turn out films that look good but didn’t cost very much. After Midnight had a cast of about six/seven. Lucky gets by on a similar number of key players, with a few extras scattered about at the end.
Grant was also in one of the Halloween movies that didn’t have Jamie Lee Curtis in (2009’s Halloween II) but reaches across to its genre rival, the Friday 13th movies to borrow a mask for her central malefactor, a guy who breaks into her house one night with a knife and a malicious intent.
“Oh,” says her husband Ted (Dhruv Uday Singh), who has been acting weirdly all night, and now seems rather peeved at having been woken from his slumber by his terrified wife. “That’s the man… the man who breaks in every night and forces us to fight for our lives,” he calmly explains. He’s looking at his golf clubs now, choosing whether an iron or a wood is the best way to neutralise the attacker.
“The man” is soon dealt with, but his body disappears almost as soon as it’s hit the floor dead. And, the next day, Ted has also disappeared, having vamoosed after a petty argument with May, leaving her to deal with “the man”, who breaks in again, and is dispatched again, after which May calls the police… again. And on it goes, night after night.
Time loop? It’s never explained but something like that is going on – May is menaced by the guy, she kills him, with knife or baseball bat, or whatever is to hand, after which the cops show up and May has pretty much the same conversation she had with them the previous night, except the cops are aware that this isn’t the first time they’ve been out to this house. Eventually, several nights in, they even post a cop at the gate.
So, no, not a time loop. Instead we’re trapped inside a big old metaphor for the violence men – in the shape of “the man” (played by an appropriately named Hunter C Smith) – inflict on women. Either that or May is having a massive psychotic episode that has somehow swollen to include the local police department and also Ted’s sister (Kausar Mohammed), who also seems to be acting as oddly as her brother.
I did not mention that May is a successful writer of self-help books for women, whose big seller is called Go It Alone. And as May is consistently belittled, humoured and ignored by the (mostly) men she comes into contact with, you do get where she is coming from, or going to.
Grant keeps her character May on an even keel, as if to head off accusations that May (and by extension Grant) is a silly hysterical woman, and her director, Natasha Kermani, and DP, Julia Swain, do wonky things with the camera, slow rotations and sudden defocuses, to suggest that something is up, we’re just never quite sure what.
Jeremy Zuckerman’s soundtrack plays along too – now murky and grungey, now bright and jangly, suggesting alternating states of mind, or the mismatch between the terrible thing that’s happening and the cool official response to it. The bludgeon is being wielded with a certain degree of finesse.
Grant has chosen the “more is more” approach and Lucky is never going to be nominated for an Oscar for subtlety. Perhaps there is one for sledgehammer insistence.
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© Steve Morrissey 2021