I hadn’t given much thought to Lucky B*stard in some time. But screenwriter and producer Lukas Kendall reached out and asked if I would be interested in reviewing the film for the site, so I opted to give it a look. I am impressed by some of the risks that the creative team behind the picture took but that didn’t quite make up for some of the film’s shortcomings.
Lucky B*stard chronicles the plight of a young man named Dave who is chosen by an adult film site called Lucky B*stard to engage in sexual congress with one of the outfit’s most popular performers. This seems like a dream come true for the shy young man but as the proprietors of Lucky B*stard proceed to relentlessly humiliate Dave, things take a decidedly sinister turn.
I must give credit to the creators of Lucky B*stard for putting together a film with ample subtext. The picture goes out of its way to criticize our society’s sick desire to see others humiliated. Reality television is rife with this type of programming. Shows like Joe Schmo, Average Joe, and Joe Millionaire prove that we take a sick sense of pleasure in watching those less fortunate than ourselves duped, humiliated, and or degraded. Lucky B*stard poignantly zeroes in on that and gives viewers a look at what might happen if an unstable contestant was pushed too far.
I also commend the filmmakers behind Lucky B*stard for going for an NC-17 rating. All too often, the MPAA bullies filmmakers into censoring their creative vision to obtain an R-rating. But Robert Nathan and Lukas Kendall made the movie they wanted to make and did not let the Motion Picture Association of America dictate what they could and could not do. That takes a lot of courage and is admirable. Kendall actually wrote an insightful piece about the fateful decision to accept the NC-17 rating for Film School Rejects.
As for the screenplay, it is not without merit: Lukas Kendall and Robert Nathan put together a script that contains some clever one liners and a healthy dose of social commentary. Some of the dialogue and exchanges are a bit stale but it’s not all bad. Unfortunately, the script is not brought to life in a manner that makes the film bearable.
The acting and direction both serve to derail the picture at several points. Betsey Rue (My Bloody Valentine 3D) is not convincing as Ashley Saint, the performer Dave wins a tryst with. While she is done up to look the part, she just cannot act effectively enough to sell the role. Jay Paulson (Black Rock) isn’t entirely believable as Dave, either. Don McManus (The Maze Runner) and Chris Wylde (The Revenant) turn in the best performances of the bunch. McManus plays the sleazy proprietor of the site somewhat convincingly but his mediocre performance is not enough to make the film worth watching. Chris Wylde is also bearable as part of the production team but his portrayal is still nothing exceptional.
The film’s biggest problems can be attributed to Robert Nathan’s direction. Lucky B*stard marks Nathan’s feature film directorial debut and that is apparent as he succumbs to many pitfalls common to an inexperienced director. He fails to inspire believable performances from his cast and he loses all control of the pacing. Nathan seems to be trying for slow burn but the film is nearly half over before anything of interest happens. By that point, most viewers will have checked out.
Another major problem with Lucky B*stard is the lack of any character development. Slow burn films must have dynamic and likable characters in order to work. We know nothing about what makes Dave tick or why his experience with the Lucky B*stard site serves to make him snap. Knowing next to nothing about Dave makes the retribution sequence rather banal and since none of the other characters are fleshed out, the viewer has very little reason to take pity on them.
The film employs the ‘found footage’ style of storytelling which doesn’t really add or detract from the overall experience. Since many of the cameras are mounted, we are spared from the shaky camerawork customary to ‘found footage’ style films but the gimmick does not really serve to elevate the tension at any point during the picture.
Overall, Lucky B*stard has its heart in the right place but the execution just isn’t there. You may want to check it out for yourself but I am not inclined to recommend it. The film is now available on DVD and Digital Download.
WICKED RATING: 3/10
Director(s): Robert Nathan
Writer(s): Lukas Kendall, Robert Nathan
Stars: Don McManus, Betsey Rue, Chris Wylde
Studio/ Production Co: Vineyard Haven
Length: 94 Minutes
Sub-Genre: Retribution Horror