Found footage horror: three of my least favorite words. I’m going to skip my usual rant about the medium since I can practically recite it manifesto-style at this point. Let’s just say found footage is usually not a friend to horror. Usually. Lucky Bastard accepts the found footage challenge and dunks it. Unusually fresh and lively for the genre, writers Robert Nathan and Lukas Kendall, prove they can deliver a horror money shot without a fluffer.
“Lucky Bastard” is a unique porn site that offers fans a chance to sleep with the porn star of their dreams on camera. No pressure, right? Mike (Don McManus), is the man behind the site, a prickish but honest business person that makes his living in the adult entertainment industry. Porn superstar/single mom, Ashley Saint (Betsy Rue), reluctantly agrees to screw the fan when the prices becomes right. The Lucky Bastard himself, Dave (Jay Paulson) is a sad sack fan of the website who wins based on his audition video. It becomes immediately clear that Dave will be the catalyst for this looming horror. Enthusiastic to a fault, Dave prematurely causes the shooting to stop before the panties are off. Embarrassed and humiliated, Dave reveals what he’s made of.
Director, Robert Nathan, does the near impossible by giving this horror film a reason to be documented by a dozen cameras. The shooting location is a former reality show home and the house has a camera in every room, every alcove, and handhelds capture the rest. The film begins with the police entering the home, now the site of several murders. They start the process of watching the wealth of video, and we see every moment of terror from multiple angles. I was also surprised at the amount of characterization in Lucky Bastard. The boss, the actress, the cameraman, they all demonstrate normal qualities for people in their situation. This firms up the foundation for the third act, when we see the characters revealing who they really are.
Things are hard to watch in the final act. Dave has a body count, and that’s to be expected, but the deaths made me hyper-aware. Dave is burning like a flare when the film moves towards the sudden climax; the last two minutes create the kind of tension that subconsciously sets your jaw in stone. I had lingering thoughts when the credits rolled. Whether it’s intentional or not, the film seems to comment on regular people getting into the porn industry. Are the terrible things that happen to these characters justified given their shady lifestyle? This is something you’ll have to decide. Lucky Bastard is a killer example of found footage done right. McManus, Rue, and Paulson deliver amazing horror performances; showing the humanity behind the characters, and eventually, the monsters that hide within us all.
I was going to make a terrible porn pun, but let me just add Lucky Bastard is available May 15th at all your favorite On Demand outlets.
If the Red Band Trailer doesn’t start your Spidey sense to tingling, I should tell you this is rated NC-17 for sexuality.