• Through the Trees

Fantasia 2020 review: Lucky

Updated: Aug 29, 2020

Natasha Kermani and Brea Grant's surreal satire slashes at systemic failure

Written by Katherine McLaughlin

In Naomi Alderman’s award-winning novel, The Power, women develop a power that makes them threatening to men. Alderman has famously stated that people suggest she has created a dystopia and her response is a good way to understand the logic behind Lucky: “It's only a dystopia for the men. In my world, nothing happens to a man that is not happening to a woman in the world we live in today. So if we find my world to be a dystopia, then we are already living in a dystopia."

Working from a screenplay written by Brea Grant (who also stars) Natasha Kermani directs a surreal and satirical Groundhog Day style horror that’s part home invasion and part wake-up call. It’s all terror all the time for self-help author May Ryer (Grant) who is reeling from an intruder attack in her home. Her husband Ted (Dhruv Uday Singh) seems weirdly blasé about it all and after an argument leaves May alone in the house. Every night her anonymous stalker (Hunter C. Smith) returns, and every time May thinks she’s defeated him he mysteriously disappears and returns the next day. It’s a frightening nightmare that not only translates what it’s like to live with the threat of male violence and aggression, but also how exhausting it feels to constantly have your pain and anxieties dismissed.

The film places the viewer in May’s shattered shoes and mental state to confront the empty platitudes, box ticking and virtue signalling that wider society presents as comfort and aid. The strangely mannered dialogue supporting characters’ wheel out to May as she talks them through her experience gives off the sense that no one is really listening to her.

Meanwhile, May is doing talks for her book and struggling to answer her readers’ questions satisfactorily. The cynical transactional value of women’s pain and hypocrisy of feminism that isn't inclusive is also touched upon in this narrative thread. As May's agent occasionally sticks his head in to advise on how to find popularity and fame with fashionable buzzwords the absurdity of it all kicks in.

Harrowing experiences are revealed through disorienting sequences heightened by sleek cinematography from Julia Swain, a creepy score by Jeremy Zuckerman and a powerful lead performance from Grant. May’s transformation from angry to traumatised, to isolated and then resigned acceptance over the course of the film is depicted with a raw intensity that speaks volumes about where the burden of responsibility lies. It's like the five stages of grief except May's sadness is tied to a misogynistic culture.

Lucky effectively satirises systemic failure when it comes to the abuse and harassment of women with wit and smarts and suggests complicity on multiple levels. The tightly written screenplay by Grant toys with slasher tropes from a refreshing angle to deliver a multi-layered horror film that skilfully conveys an unnerving sense of impending doom and palpable rage as it tackles society’s disconcerting response to the repetitive cycle of violence against women.

Lucky screens again at Fantasia on 28th August and will be available on Shudder in 2021.


Director: Natasha Kermani

Screenwriter: Brea Grant

Stars: Brea Grant, Hunter C. Smith, Kristina Klebe

Distributor: Shudder

Running Time: 83 mins

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