Being a woman can be incredibly stressful: we are told not to walk home alone at night, we clutch our keys between our fingers in deserted parking garages, we remind friends to text us once they’ve gotten home safely. Living in fear can take a toll on your mental state, and the collective stress women feel in simply existing is not often addressed, at least not in the way director Natasha Kermani and writer/actress Brea Grant boldly confront this notion in Lucky.
May (Grant) is a self-help author who lives with her husband Ted (Dhruv Uday Singh), who seems like a nice guy. One night, an intruder breaks in and tries to kill May, but after Ted hits him, the intruder disappears. Following the event, Ted and the people around May act odd about the attack — as if nothing out of the ordinary has happened. May — out of confusion — reacts to this, which upsets Ted and causes him to leave. He doesn’t return, leaving May alone. The intruder returns again and this repeats night after night, and as she fights for her life, May attempts to uncover why this keeps happening to her.
Although the pacing is slow while May tries to come to grips with her situation — which also leaves the audience out of the loop — Lucky manages to investigate how women have to continually live in fear of being attacked or abused by men. The film is blunt in stating the fact this is a fear all women have, and it could come from anywhere — your husband, your boss, a stranger on the street. Focusing on how women’s fears can be belittled and ignored by the people closest to them, Kermani uses the horror genre to place this home-invasion metaphor at the center of the film.
Ted’s initial anger towards May is due to the fact that he thinks she is overreacting; he doesn’t understand why she’s upset. Ted gaslights her in multiple scenes, in addition to leaving her alone to fend for herself. He doesn’t get May’s fear, but neither does his sister or her assistant. Law enforcement and social workers are no help either: they question her statements and emotional state, unwilling to believe she’s being repeatedly attacked. This reflects the patterns that occur when women are being abused and no one believes them or is able to help.
May is left to her own devices. She must learn how to cope with the attacks, as well as accept that no one is willing to help her. The first half of the film is incredibly frustrating — the viewer is in May’s shoes, unable to understand what’s happening. This makes for a difficult viewing experience, but once it comes full circle, the end result is quite satisfying.
Kermani and Grant crafted a world that merely exaggerated the reality we live in. The ignorance of those around May is outlandish because she’s being attacked by a clear enemy: the intruder. But switch the physical attacks with the emotional ones led by Ted, and the film is entirely realistic in terms of how abuse is often reacted to. Everyone’s disregard for May’s feelings is heightened by the blue tones that permeate every scene — this is an apathetic world May lives in, one that unfortunately reflects our own.
Lucky isn’t the most joyful viewing experience — it’s slow and offers few answers — but it does reflect on the burden that is being a woman, using abuse to examine how women’s feelings are so easily undermined. Grant penned an intelligent screenplay that teeters between thriller and elevated horror, and Kermani directs the story in an unflinching manner, leaving audiences with the feeling that they will never be safe and that this is something we must come to accept.