Synopsis: When the adult website LUCKY BASTARD runs a contest giving the winner a night with a hot porn star, the outcome turns from fantasy to horror in a deadly nightmare no one could possibly have expected.
Release Date: February 14, 2014 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Horror, Thriller
Lucky Bastard stars Don McManus (Grand Piano) as Mike, a porn director who runs a website called, appropriately enough, Lucky Bastard. The gimmick behind the site is that it takes regular Joe’s, lucky bastards if you will, and allows them to have sex with porn stars on camera for the site. Mike selects a shy, introverted guy named Dave G. (Jay Paulson from Imaginary Heroes) to have a shot at stardom with one of his girls, the lovely Ashley Saint (My Bloody Valentine‘s Betsy Rue).
The film crew is assembled, the equipment is gathered, and the house is rented, but everything doesn’t quite go according to plan. It would seem that there are things about Dave G. that Mike’s screening process didn’t reveal, and the shoot gets bloody in a hurry.
The brainchild of writer/director Robert Nathan (who wrote and produced for “Law & Order” and “ER”) and first-time screenwriter Lukas Kendall, Lucky Bastard is a strange film. It is a bit problematic but, surprisingly, the problems have nothing to do with it being a found-footage picture. In fact, the concept is genius, and Lucky Bastard really gives the impression that it could actually happen. The subject matter is a bit uncomfortable, making for some pretty awkwardly funny moments at the beginning of the film, but it goes from black comedy to slasher film pretty quickly as Dave inevitably flips out and goes on a murderous tear.
Even though Dave’s rampage is violent and bloody, the gore in the film is still pretty minimal. The ideas in the film are more unsettling than the events. Lucky Bastard is a tricky film to pin down. It’s not really a horror film, it’s not really a comedy, and it’s not really a drama; it’s a little of each, and not in a good way.
For a faux documentary, Lucky Bastard is heavily scripted, and that’s the root of the problem. There’s a little too much talk for it to be completely organic, with characters over-analyzing their actions and externalizing their thoughts. Dave explains himself to every one of his victims, and the victim will plead out loud and bargain with him. With so much talk and so little action, the wordiness is the film’s ultimate downfall. As the events unfold and the dialogue continues, the plot starts to get predictable. The film gets bogged down in repetitive exposition, and that’s where it starts to get tedious.
If there’s one thing that can be said about Lucky Bastard, it’s that it is original. It really isn’t like anything else out there. As a found footage film, it’s fairly believable once the audience gets past the mildly recognizable actors. Because it deals with the internet porn industry, the characters in the film are expectedly shallow and one dimensional. Even the sex scenes are trivialized, reflecting the awkwardness and discomfort of two participants who have just met and are expected to engage in clumsy intercourse. To put it plainly, the sex is not sexy.
Lucky Bastard parodies internet porn websites, but not in a funny way. The silliness just distracts from what Lucky Bastard should be – a highly disturbing splatter flick. Instead, it’s an unfocused talk-fest.
The big trick in making an effective found footage film is providing a natural reason for the cameras to be rolling. Lucky Bastard definitely has that going for it. Not only are the characters making a movie-within-the-movie, but they’re making a low budget internet porn movie, so there’s an excuse for everyone to be carrying a camera. Furthermore, the house that Mike rents for the shoot is an ex-reality show compound with hidden cameras everywhere, and Mike utilizes those as well.
There is no shortage of footage, and there are good reasons for all of its existence. Much of the camera work was done by documentary filmmaker Clay Westervelt (who has worked on everything from television’s “The Antonio Treatment” to Spine Tingler! The William Castle Story), and it is as authentic as reality footage can be, showing everything that needs to be seen while still looking amateur. If a filmmaker is going to make a found-footage film, they may as well do it right. Photographically, at least, Lucky Bastard does it right.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Robert Nathan
- Screenwriter(s): Lukas Kendall, Robert Nathan
- Cast: Don McManus (Mike), Jay Paulson (Dave), Betsy Rue (Ashley Saint), Chris Wylde (Kris), Catherine Annette (Casey), Lee Kholafai (Josh)
- Editor(s): Tony Randel
- Cinematographer: Clay Westervelt
- Country Of Origin: USA