There have been a few really great sub-90 minute films recently: Mark Jenkin’s Bait was 89 minutes, as was Dick Johnson is Dead, and Rose Glass’s debut horror St Maud was 85. At 83 minutes, Nathasha Kermani’s second feature, Lucky, is another one to add to the list. Genre films should never stray too far past the hour and a half mark, and this one sits unashamedly in that category.
It follows May, a self-help author in a (kind of) happy marriage, who wakes up one night to a masked man trying to break into her house and kill her – it couldn’t be more classic slasher. What happens next is truly unexpected, and moves Lucky into the post-Scream world of films that play with the conventions of horror to do something different and interesting, often, as is the case here, with political undertones.
When the moment comes it is both funny and exciting in its unexpectedness, and at only 10 minutes in, it’s a sign of the film’s dedication to keeping things moving at a real pace. Maybe Lucky osmosed some of the qualities of its production – it was shot over just 15 days with very limited pre-production. Nothing feels like it lacks preparation though. Natasha Kermani’s precise direction means the result always feels in control, leading viewers exactly where it wants to go. And those are some fascinating places: it sets subtle, everyday misogyny alongside brutal and violent acts, and forces its audience to think about how they interlink. There is another bold, surreal step into a third act that calls to mind the work of Jordan Peele.
A lot of the credit has to go to Brea Grant, who writes and stars, and does an equally excellent job on both counts. The rest of the cast are also great; a lot of them are comedians and it shows – the film is creepily, unsettlingly funny. This feels like the result of harmonious collaboration (interviews with Kermani and Grant suggest so too).
It’s a shame that the movie follows so closely on the heels of the bigger budget The Invisible Man as it means that it feels less fresh than it would otherwise have done 18 months ago. But Lucky nevertheless holds its own as a creepy, funny, thought-provoking, satisfying horror. And the best thing about it: you could almost watch it over your lunch break.
Lucky is released digitally on demand via Shudder on 4th March 2021.
Watch the trailer for Lucky here: