Slasher films are nothing new. Time-loop films are nothing new. Hell, even slasher time-loop films are nothing new. But what is new is the latest film by director Natasha Kermani, Lucky.
Lucky follows business writer May, who finds herself trapped in a cycle of constant violence as a masked figure attempts to kill her each and every night. When her pleas for help to those around her fall on deaf ears, she must take matters into her own hands.
Time-loop films are slowly becoming a genre of their own, with films such as Palm Springs, Live Die Repeat and Happy Death Day being some brilliant examples. But unlike those films, Lucky takes a different approach to its never-ending cycle of time. Instead of a constant loop of the same events, the film opts for an actual linear story but with events so similar, it’s as if each day is the same, making what’s unfolding feel like a nightmare with no end in sight.
For a film lasting one hour and 23 minutes, Lucky feels decades longer: the interesting story and dialogue are spread a bit too thin to keep you fully engaged throughout. This is a shame as when it works, it really does work. The (very) gradual build-up reveals, piece by piece, an important and effective commentary on misogyny and abuse, shining light on the problem while hinting at a hopeful solution. This message is slow to reveal but, thanks to a tone reminiscent of surrealist filmmaker David Lynch, the story does keep you interested a little bit at a time.
Sound editing and music are a double-edged sword in Lucky as at times the editing is stellar, sucking you into the film and the intense events unfolding. However, the sound design is of such a surprisingly low quality that any immersion created is instantly shattered. These highs and lows certainly add excitement to the slower parts of the film, but probably not in the way the filmmakers intended.
The performances weren’t particularly bad, but they didn’t quite stand out or stay memorable after the film. Despite the majority of the plot following Brea Grant’s May, the standouts in Lucky are May’s husband Ted and his sister, played by Dhruv Uday Singh and Kausar Mohammed respectively. While their roles are unfortunately brief, their performances add some much-needed intrigue—as well as humour—to the story, with their unsettling dispositions and frankly quite weird behaviour. This stands as a testament to the talent of Brea Grant (who wrote the film’s screenplay, as well as starring in it): the fantastically captivating dialogue evokes the work of directors such as Lynch and Yorgos Lanthimos.
By the end of the second act, Lucky’s themes and tones have gracefully revealed themselves at long last—only for them to lose any subtlety as soon as the end is in sight. The message is painted loud and clear for us in a slightly sloppy manner. Interesting and claustrophobic camerawork doesn’t save the crescendoing third act from feeling rushed and ill-conceived in an attempt to get its point across, something it had already done very well up to this point.
Yet despite the slow jog that ended in a stumble, the film, for the most part, did manage to combine the used sub-genres of slashers and time-loops into something fresh enough to enjoy, while also shedding light on abuse in a respectful and powerful way. That’s something that unfortunately isn’t covered nearly as well elsewhere, including in many blockbusters.
Social commentary is something that, while important, many don’t like in their films. Instead, they’re hoping for an excuse to get away from the difficulties of everyday life. For that reason, many may be put off by the topics discussed in Lucky. But despite a great deal of the substance coming from the discussion the film tries to ignite on violence against women, it does have its own merits without this. It’s a solid little slasher when it wants to be, and it only gets more interesting the harder you think.
Lucky definitely has its flaws, but it does enough right to make it at least worth a chance, even if it does take its time getting going.
Words by George Bell
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