Shudder’s Lucky Review: A Smart Female Spin on the Home Invasion Thriller
Brea Grant should be crowned a modern-day indie horror queen. Fresh off of a stellar performance in After Midnight and the release of her directorial debut 12 Hour Shift, Grant knocks it out of the park again in Lucky, a smart home invasion thriller told through a female perspective. Directed by Natasha Kermani (Imitation Girl) and written by Grant, Lucky is a tense and unique take on a familiar subgenre, a film that shows the daily horrors women face.
Grant plays self-help book author May, whose marriage to Ted (Dhruv Uday Singh) is on the rocks. All they do is fight, but that’s not the worst of their problems. Every night, a masked man (Hunter C. Smith) invades their home and tries to kill May. No matter how often she defeats him, he returns.
Don’t expect a clear beginning, middle, and end or standard narrative logic. Lucky isn’t that kind of film. Even Jeremy Zuckerman’s score is minimal, leaving space for imagination. It’s not your standard slasher, and the real terror lies in the fact that every day, May will wake up and confront the man. The time loop keeps her trapped.
In his non-descript mask and all-black outfit, the man could be any male, a blank slate who invokes a type of dread that represents May’s deeper anxieties and every day misogyny. He’s as looming and pursuant as Michael Myers but representative of deeper issues.
Grant’s performance is compelling, especially the more frazzled her character becomes. Her anxiety is palpable. The man becomes ever-present in her life. At first, he only comes at night, despite locked doors and new alarms. He increasingly crosses every boundary and notion of safety that May has, and that’s what makes him so terrifying.
Despite the evidence, everyone dismisses May’s fears. Ted bails on her early into the movie and ignores her panicked voicemails. When he does eventually return, he gaslights her, telling her that she was acting “crazy.” Further, even the police, a detective, and a social worker are skeptical that May’s story rings true. Lucky shows how often female victims are dismissed and doubted.
To add, the men closest to May question her success and hard work. Early in the film, when May talks to Ted about an upcoming book signing/event, he scoffs and asks why she can’t just pre-sign the books and give them out, instead of interacting with readers.
Later, when May’s agent delivers news about another book deal, he tells her that she’s lucky, considering the market. Finally, May snaps back, declaring, “I’m not lucky,” noting all of the hard work she put into the last book, not only with the writing, but the publicity and constant talks and signings.
The other men in May’s life, and even those charged with protecting her, are just as horrific as the man. They don’t assist or uplift her. Instead, they cause her to doubt herself at times. This is one of the finest points of Grant’s script. It shows the barriers that women still face, especially victims of violence or those in successful positions.
Lucky is a strong film, a thrilling 90 minutes that builds to a memorable conclusion that’s also open to interpretation. Grant and Kermani managed to create a gripping home invasion story that reflects deeper female anxieties, specifically how often female success is questioned and how frequently the stories of female victims are ignored.
Lucky premieres on Shudder March 4.
Brian Fanelli is a poet and educator who also enjoys writing about the horror genre. His work has been published in The LA Times, World Literature Today, Schuylkill Valley Journal, Horror Homeroom, and elsewhere. On weekends, he enjoys going to the local drive-in theater with his fiancé, or curling up on the couch and binge-watching movies with their cat, Giselle.