Fantasia 2020: ‘Lucky’ Needs You to Know That This is Not Normal
What if you lived under the near constant threat of attack, and there was nothing anyone would do. If — day or night — there was a persistent hum of danger that always kept you on edge. And no matter how many times you expressed fear or concern, it was just met by vaguely accusatory questions and a general indifference to your situation. This is both the unfortunate reality for many women and the premise of director Natasha Kermani’s Lucky.
In the film, a self-help writer named May fights to be believed as she finds herself stalked by a threatening figure who returns to her house night after night. When she can’t get help from those around her, she is forced to take matters into her own hands.
Written by Brea Grant (who also stars as May), the script really doesn’t beat around the proverbial bush. In one scene promoting May’s new book — aptly titled “Go It Alone” — she holds a Q&A session (Lucky’s equivalent to the overly telling classroom lecture scene); the dialogue is direct, clearly laying down the groundwork for the film’s feminist themes. It poses questions and raises points that prepare the viewer for its very open (if not perhaps a tad heavy-handed) exploration of abuse and aggression towards women, so prevalent in society that it’s seemingly shrugged off with an aloof “this is just how things are”.
Throughout the film, the script circles back to the absurdity of this notion. May is told to “stay vigilant”, as though an awareness of the situation will somehow prevent it from happening. May’s husband seems unphased by the attacks and the police suggest that it could have been worse; at every turn, May is met with indifference. You can really feel Grant’s grounded exasperation. She plays weary well; you see her exhaustion as she drags herself through each day, frustrated, baffled, and alone.
The music by Jeremy Zuckerman (Horse Girl) is wonderfully unsettling, with plucking strings and tense, halting notes that sound vaguely like if Philip Glass were to score Psycho. It establishes a moody tone, then throws in a comically on-the-nose fake radio song that croons vague affirmations like “you can do whatever you wanna do” while May shops for the tools to try and keep herself alive. It’s a great yet subtle detail that highlights how bizarre this whole situation is (speaking both for the world of the film and the world at large).
Visually, Lucky is surprisingly serene with hues of blue and white that create a calming atmosphere, so offset with the violence that periodically erupts on screen. It considers the harsh reality that comfort does not necessarily equal safety. It’s like the visual equivalent of aromatherapy; it may make you think you’re at peace, but are you really? These subtle details create a sense of normalcy that brushes over the weirdness, making it all feel like some sort of lucid dream that never quite settles.
To add to this dreamlike quality, Kermani escalates the absurd so that you just keep expecting May to wake up from some bizarre yet very realistic nightmare. You constantly find yourself questioning reality. It works, given the themes and subject matter, and it heightens the supernatural elements of the film so that when weird shit does happen, it’s not outside the realm of possibility.
Lucky has a lot of bones to pick. But for all its not-at-all-hidden messaging, it’s an engrossing and entertaining film. You’re right there with May in her ongoing fight, you’re rooting for her to win. You want to see this guy get taken down.
The subtext is very thinly veiled — it’s about as blunt as a hammer — but the approach is measured. Lucky continually points an accusatory finger at the lack of action taken, the amount of victim blaming and condescension, and the gender narratives we’ve formed as a society.
Despite all the attention that’s been brought to the issue of violence against women, it’s still a persistent problem with no end in sight, which is as absurd as it is maddening. Women aren’t natural victims; this isn’t normal. Lucky really needs you to know that.
Lucky is playing as part of Fantasia Fest 2020. You can catch the next screening on Friday, August 28 at 11:00PM, EST. For more from Fantasia 2020, click here to read my review of Belgian zombie flick, Yummy.
‘The Curious Case of Natalia Grace’ True Story Partly Mirrors the Story of ‘Orphan’
Wow. Truth is stranger than fiction. The ID channel documentary digs into the strange, chilling story that isn’t unlike the story in Orphan. Currently, on MAX, The Curious Case of Natalia Grace is a brilliant and out of this world documentary that is a copy of Orphan. Insead of Esther, we haev Natalia and the results are as chilling and bizarre.
The documentary series beging with a couple adopting a child before realizing that the “child” has pubic hair and has started their menstral cycle. It isn’t long before the adopted adult (in their late 20’s early 30’s) begins to talk about killing the family who adopter her.
It isn’t long before the documentary shifts gears to reveal something more sinister and shocking than finding out your life has become Orphan the movie. I don’t want to spoil what that twist is but it is something I’m highly recommending.
The Curious Case of Natalie Grace is a rare doc like The Jinx that manages to pull of impossible feats in storytelling.
The official synopsis for The Curious Case of Natalia Grace goes like this:
Initially assumed to be a 6-year-old Ukrainian orphan with a rare bone growth disorder, Natalia was adopted by Kristine and Michael Barnett in 2010. However, the happy family dynamic soured when allegations against Natalia were brought by the Barnetts who alleged Natalia was an adult masquerading as a child with intent to harm their family. In 2013, Natalia was discovered living on her own which ignited an investigation that led to Michael and Kristine’s arrest and a firestorm of questions.
The Curious of case of Natalia Grace is now streaming on Max. Do yourself a favor and watch this bizarre tale.
Hall of Shadows – Haunted Attraction Zone Returns To Midsummer Scream!
When Midsummer Scream, the world’s largest Halloween and horror convention, returns to the Long Beach Convention Center from July 28 to 30, its centerpiece will be the Hall of Shadows, a massive dark zone that features a stunning array of haunted attractions, interactive photo ops, and live entertainment as creatures lurk and screams flow from the swirling fog.
All passes for Midsummer Scream include admission to every attraction within the Hall of Shadows, which for the first time ever, will be open to guests all three days of the fan convention: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. One- and three-day passes to Midsummer Scream are available now at www.MidsummerScream.org. Additionally, guests holding the Gold Bat VIP pass will receive “fast lane” access to most attractions within the Hall of Shadows, bypassing general admission standby queues.
“As we celebrate horror games of all types this year at Midsummer Scream, the theme of this year’s Hall of Shadows is ‘Dungeons & Demons,’ which pays homage to the OG ‘monster’ game that we all grew up with and still love to this day: Dungeons & Dragons,” says Rick West, Co-Founder and Creative Director of Midsummer Scream. “We’ve invited our haunters this year to let their imaginations run wild and, where possible, to incorporate some kind of gamification or interactive element into their Hall of Shadows creations. Everyone is excited and hard at work to bring fans the most epic Hall of Shadows yet!”
Guests will enter this year’s Hall of Shadows through ancient ruins filled with traps, treasure, and classic D&D monsters, thanks to the talent of the always amazing CalHauntS team. Roll for initiative and step lively into the darkness ahead — guests who linger too long are in danger of becoming a permanent fixture of this ancient dungeon!
Emerging into the foggy expanse of the Hall of Shadows, guests are free to explore and engage in more than a dozen spooky attractions, elaborate displays, and frightening photo ops at will, created by some of the best haunters in Southern California… and beyond. Among them:
- Popular cosplay photographer, Rawl of the Dead, will be on hand throughout the weekend, taking complementary pictures of guests as they fight to survive a zombie apocalypse;
- Straite to Hale Productions invites fans to seek out spirits within their Winchester Mystery House-inspired walk-through experience, which is sponsored by the world-famous mansion in San Jose;
- The Pizza Planet Truck and Art’s Sideshow are joining forces to create a Disney-inspired display that’s been taken over by Chucky, resulting in anything but a fairytale ending for the delivery driver;
- The Dreich Society will take guests on a terror trip through the Fifth Dimension with their Twilight Zone-inspired haunt;
- Derry’s very own Mr. Floats will taunt and haunt visitors playing games of chance in his CarnEVIL Games zone, along with an assorted crew of nightmarish characters;
- The Ghostwood Manor home haunt will present Pharaoh’s Hall, an Egyptian-themed walk-through that will have visitors crying for their mummies;
- The Haunt With No Name… Yet returns with its elaborate Celtic cemetery “yard display” that remains a decades-old home haunt fixture in Los Angeles each Halloween;
- Santa Ana Haunt will initiate visitors into the terrifying cult world of Kormos and their blood-crazed rituals;
- The Haunted Harvest makes its Hall of Shadows debut as they introduce fans to the Notflix Killer in an after-hours encounter inside a closed Hauntbuster Video store;
- Tunnel of Terror, SoCal’s favorite haunted car wash, will treat fans to a 360-degree photo booth experience filled with terrifying monsters;
- Coble Haunter will be on hand with an all-new attraction, daring fans to take a stroll through their old-school haunted house where evil dwells;
- Fear Farm, who hold the title of tallest Hall of Shadows façade ever (24.5 feet in 2022) returns this year with a brand-new castle-themed attraction, creeping with evil creatures — and a built-in tavern that will be accessible to all guests 21 years and older;
- And for the first time, Hall of Shadows plays host to an out-of-state haunt — Wicker Manor — who are bringing the terror from Colorado to Long Beach for everyone to enjoy!
In addition, the Decayed Brigade will present three shows daily both Saturday and Sunday on their massive Hall of Shadows “runway,” as they thrill hundreds of onlookers with high-energy sliding maneuvers and pulse-pounding stunts in a slider exhibition like none other!
All of that and more will be waiting in the darkness of the Hall of Shadows for fans when the doors to Midsummer Scream 2023 creak open the evening of Friday, July 28, in Long Beach. To receive breaking information about Midsummer Scream, fans can sign up for a digital newsletter at MidsummerScream.org or follow Midsummer Scream on Instagram and Facebook by searching @midsummerscream.
About Midsummer Scream
Midsummer Scream is presented by David Markland (Co-Founder/Executive Director), Gary Baker (Co-Founder/Executive Producer), Claire Dunlap (Co-Founder/Producer), and Rick West (Co-Founder/Creative Director). Their goal is to showcase the diversity of Southern California’s haunt and horror community as a welcoming beacon for fans around the world to converge on Los Angeles for a weekend of excitement, networking, and non-stop spooky fun!
John Carpenter Reveals TV Series He Directed in Secrecy
John Carpenter’s long hiatus from filmmaking is a real bummer. The maestro took over a streak of masterful films that included Halloween, Escape From New York, Big Trouble in Little China, and more. It was brilliant and a totally unparalleled streak. After In the Mouth of Madness, Carpenter wasn’t as active anymore. And he hasn’t been in a hurry to get back.
Over this time he has worked on comics as well as some really great music. But, is it possible that Carpenter has already directed his next project and just not mentioned it?
While he was talking at Texas Frightmare Weekend, Carpenter went on record to let fans know that he directed his next thing already in secrecy.
“I just finished directing, remotely, a TV series called ‘Suburban Screams’ ‘John Carpenter’s Suburban Screams,’” Carpenter announced “It was filmed in Prague, and I sat on my couch and directed it. It was awesome.”
Carpenter is a bit of a grouch and a smart ass… so is it possible that he is messing with us? It would 100 percent be his style. But, then again he might be telling the truth…
If it is true, the plans for release, who starred in it, the plot, and everything else are being kept under wraps.
If it is indeed real, I hope that Carpenter wrote it and directed it. Even if he is being lazy and directing from a couch, barking orders it would be brilliant to see him back in film/TV.
We will be sure to let you know if there are any more details announced on this one. In the meantime what do you think? Do you think Carpenter directed this TV project from his couch and in secrecy? Let us know in the comments section.