Following the success of last year’s The Invisible Man reboot, Lucky seems to follow in its footsteps. The latest Shudder Original, releasing March 4th, picks up the gendered aspect of Leigh Whannell’s hit, following May (Brea Grant, writer-director of 12 Hour Shift), an author plagued by nightly visits from a masked attacker, who seems to keep cropping up despite her retaliation – crafting an innovative and nuanced look at male power and patriarchy in horror.
The film’s opening is perhaps its weakest point: a far-too-brisk exploration of May’s life as she signs books, talks to publishers and quarrels with her husband Ted (Drhuv Uday Singh). It doesn’t do enough to establish her as a character we should care about, but director Natasha Kermani picks up numerous gears as the masked menace – wearing a glossy disguise affixed to an unidentifiable face – starts prowling around. It’s a concept that at times wears a little thin, with a slightly lumbering structure of invasion, police report and repeat, but Kermani tells it from a distinctly female point of view, exploring how our patriarchal society overlooks gender imbalances, and preserves the status quo.
May’s numerous, and increasing desolate, attempts to get the authorities to catch this ominous antagonist are consistently fruitless, with her (valid) concerns often culminating in her being asked trivial questions, or simply being told to ‘be vigilant’. It’s the kind of lazy rhetoric female victims of crime are often subject to, and the symbolic exploration of patriarchy that Kermani delves into is really vivid: male attackers going unquestioned, female victims implicitly blamed, all culminating in an end sequence that suggests it’s not just a one-off, but that this gendered society is rotten to the core.
The sheer directorial inventiveness is what helps ground the film’s action, with bloody violence handled splendidly, and claustrophobic scenes of horror that still don’t compare to the endemic misogyny that May’s experience unveils. Yet another proud staple in the contemporary horror canon, that proves women in the genre don’t have to be relegated to the ‘final girl’.
Lucky will be released on March 4th 2021, exclusively on Shudder.