‘Lucky’ review: time-loop horror replays trauma of domestic violence

'Heroes' star Brea Grant leads this home invasion thriller that speaks to the female experience

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    The horror movie industry has long thrived on blokes in masks carrying out unrelenting and unprovoked attacks on women, be they co-eds in cabins, individuals in their own homes or sisters in sororities.

    In some ways, Lucky – written by its star Brea Grant, best known for her role in mid-2000s event TV show Heroes, and directed by relative newcomer Natasha Kermani – is no different. We meet Brea’s protagonist May, a self-help author whose own life goes off the rails when a masked assailant returns to her house night after night. And night after night, it falls on May to fend off her attacker and watch, in bafflement, as his body magically disappears and her recollection of the events are disputed.

    Lucky
    Brea Grant as May in ‘Lucky’. CREDIT: Shudder

    Colleagues, relatives and the police appear willing to offer help, but somehow, no one is ever on hand when the attacker strikes, leaving it to May to wedge a claw hammer in his skull, or a kitchen knife between his ribs. May, we learn, is apparently stuck in a modishly popular time loop story (see also: Happy Death Day 2U, Palm Springs).

    The film has the viewer searching for answers throughout – why does the attacker look a bit like May’s absent boyfriend? Why does she give him the opportunity to escape? Why does she clean up evidence? Presented, as it is, on horror network Shudder, our expectations are for a supernatural explanation, but none is forthcoming.

    Lucky
    A masked assailant returns to May’s house night after night. CREDIT: Shudder

    Actually, we come to realise, the film is a metaphor for domestic abuse in its repetitive, complicit, gaslit, isolating everyday horror. When the pieces fall into place, the narrative begins to make sense, from the unremarkable anonymity of the attacker’s masked appearance to his attack method – turning May’s own weapons on her – and the way May fastidiously removes every last drop of blood after carrying out her terrible, burdensome duties.

    May’s central character is compelling, not overtly a great part of the ‘sisterhood’, not necessarily a sympathetic character, not falling into any of the regular horror movie moulds except, it seems, the unravelling female mind. The cues we get as to the reality of her experience naturally you question her sanity, which means you just failed the test.

    It’s a fair question to ask why anyone might want to endure this experience in the name of home entertainment. Lucky is difficult to watch: frustrating, boring, guarded, reluctant to explain, exhausting even. Why would anyone want to live that disorienting experience? They wouldn’t. So the answer might instead be: that’s the point.

    Details

    • Director: Natasha Kermani
    • Starring: Brea Grant, Kausar Mohammed, Dhruv Uday Singh
    • Release date: March 4 (Shudder)
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