Cycles of Gendered Abuse Are Never Ending in Home-Invasion Thriller ‘Lucky’

A still from 'Lucky'. May (Brea Grant) is shown in close-up, in her dimly lit house, to the left of the image, she is looking back over her shoulder in fear. She is wearing a white strappy top, she is a blonde woman in her 30s, her fringe covering half her face, and a mole on her nose. Her lips are apart in shock.
Shudder

“It’s just the man who comes into our house every night and tries to kill us.”

When May’s (Brea Grant) husband Ted (Dhruv Uday Singh) utters this chilling statement after she spots an intruder trying to get into their home one night, the fabric of May’s reality begins to unravel. Equal parts The Strangers and Happy Death Day, Natasha Kermani’s Lucky (penned by leading lady Brea Grant) is a smart examination on the social standing of women in regards to harassment, gaslighting and victim-blaming.

May continues to see The Man on a daily basis — fighting for her life, with injuries on both sides — as he stalks her home waiting to strike with a large knife. The problem is that whenever she thinks she thinks he’s down for the count, he suddenly vanishes without a trace. When Ted can no longer take May’s continued hysteria he leaves for a few days, leaving her alone with the killer. The police don’t take her seriously, Ted’s sister repeatedly blames her for what’s happened and everyone she comes into contact with starts to think she’s crazy. Kermani plays into May’s frustration with ease, delivering a masterclass in timing and subtlety that ticks over at a swift pace that allows the audience to play their own version of whodunnit — anyone with a general knowledge of slasher tropes will think they know the answer, and they will be wrong, right down to the last five minutes.

A still from 'Lucky'. The Man is shown centre frame, in close-up, in a blue-lit parking garage. He is wearing a clear plastic mask that blurs his facial features. He is wearing a black wool smart jacket, black top and has dark cropped hair.
Shudder

May’s career as a self-help author — currently between books, drudging through a promotional tour — ties in nicely with the films undertones of women’s catharsis. Sitting in front of a crowd of all-women fans, May is suddenly unable to offer advice to her devotees, shrinking under the weight of the gaslighting and victim-blaming she’s endured at the hands of the justice system and her relationships. As a resourceful and rational woman, May truly begins to understand the meaning behind her latest book title ‘Go It Alone’ (she’s endlessly frustrated by PR-enforced buzzwords and statements), figuring that often the typical means of justice for female victims of abuse and violence actually stand for nothing other than to perpetuate ideals that women are lying, attention-seeking or irrational; May has to fight this one herself.

Brea Grant delivers yet another fantastic genre film performance (After Midnight is sensational) balancing the best of humour, confusion and courage at the drop of a hat. She never drops to the point of shadow-watching, sweating paranoia we see in films with similar themes like 2020’s The Invisible Man, instead trying to rationalise her problem and conquer it alone. While her repeated encounters with The Man do become quite lacklustre in their action and shocks, Grant rises to the occasion each time (quite literally).

Grant’s script ultimately outsmarts its simple slasher premise. Its introduction of alternate sub-genre conventions in its latter half (PSA: please go into this knowing as little as possible) uplift the script beyond the realms of a home invasion thriller. With its roots planted firmly in the socially conscious themes all the best horror derives from, Kermani’s film tackles the epidemic of women’s abuse at the hands of men, be it mental, physical or emotional. The film’s ending might not pack the punch some viewers will desire — its genuinely quite exhausting rather than satisfying — but if anything it proves that there’s work to be done and women still aren’t seeing their trauma dealt with sufficiently in legal or emotional terms; that those faces will always linger.

Lucky is available to stream exclusively on Shudder now

by Chloe Leeson

Chloë (she/her) is the founder of SQ. She hails from the north of England (the proper north that people think is actually Scotland but isn’t). Her life source is Harmony Korine’s 90s Letterman interviews. She is a costume designer for hire who spends far too much time watching bad horror movies. Her favourite films are Into The Wild, Lords of Dogtown, Stand by Me and Pan’s Labyrinth. She rants about cinema screenings @kawaiigoff and logs them on letterboxd here

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