Thursday, September 4, 2014

Movie Review: Lucky Bastard (2013)

I was sent the link for this 2013 indie found footage movie Lucky Bastard, and though it is not really in the vein of "horror," this is one of those movies that I can't let go without saying something about it. Don't let the movie's premise fool you into any preconceived notions - Lucky Bastard is well-made and smart, and done in a very respectful way.

Porn producer Mike talks his star actress Ashley Saint into participating in the "Lucky Bastard" series on his website, where a normal guy is chosen to have sex on camera with a porn star. Ashley hesitatingly agrees, and the lucky bastard is decided - seemingly shy, nice guy Dave. But when the show doesn't go exactly as planned, it seems they might have picked the wrong man.

The film almost sets itself up for disaster by having it be about the adult entertainment industry. It received an NC-17 rating from the MPAA, with not really any chance to cut it down to an R without losing huge gaps in the movie. However, I was pleasantly surprised at and impressed with the filmmakers for the classy way they handled the material. Make no mistake: there is vulgar talk of sex; there is full frontal female and male nudity; and there are several graphic simulated sex scenes. Yet I never once got a feeling of sleaze or cheese from the movie.

The biggest reason for this part of the movie's success is the acting and the characters. Betsy Rue (from My Bloody Valentine and Halloween II) plays Ashley Saint. I liked that Ashley wasn't selfish or materialistic - porn is just her job, a way to take care of herself and her children. My only complaint is that when things get a bit more intense in the third act, Rue doesn't match her emotions with what is happening and she is too blasé. Also, I don't know how you can have the morals not to do anal porn, but be perfectly okay with doing rape porn! The character of Mike should be your typical sleazy porn magnate, but in the hands of these writers, and actor Don McManus, Mike actually becomes the most likable guy in the film. Despite a few moments of greedy exploitation, McManus portrays Mike as a solidly good guy who is caring, respectful, and protective of the people with whom he works. The lucky bastard Dave is played by Jay Paulson, whose look fits the character to a T. Paulson's mannerisms as a stereotypical shy geek work perfectly here, and the escalation of his nerves is natural and believable. The only real oddball character is Kacey, aspiring porn actress and Mike's current girlfriend. It's hard to get a handle on who she really is when nothing is known about her motivations or background, so while she's a good character played by a good actress, she's still a mystery to me.

The found footage aspect not only makes total sense for this situation, but it is also one of the best filmed of this type of movie that I've seen. The images are crisp and clear, and with characters that are supposed to be professional cameramen running things, the filmmakers are able to use nicely framed shots for every scene without losing the believability. The last part of the film takes place in a house once used for a reality show, so there are already cameras all over the place to catch the action that the fictional camera crew can't. Because of the use of found footage, there is no music in the film.  Also interesting about the film's style is that there are no night scenes. Everything takes place in big, bright, sunny L.A. - a very stark contrast to the actions taking place on screen. It definitely puts you into a false sense of security that nothing all that terrible is going to happen.

And really, it doesn't. The sex scenes are about as graphic as the film gets, and even those weren't bad at all by my standards. When things get bloody, it is not stylized or flashy, but rather really stays with Lucky Bastard's overall realistic feel and tone. There are some places that I didn't think the movie needed to go to, but that might just be me. They also bring in a couple of unnecessary characters that seem to maybe just be there for a body count - and you can guess that about them when they are first introduced.

The ending is a slight downer if you want something more exciting, but it is probably the most realistic ending they could have chosen. Lucky Bastard is a diamond in the rough considering what it gives itself to work with. Its subject matter might turn off some viewers, but give it the chance and I think you'll find a movie that is a pleasant surprise with its acting and technical skill.

You can view Lucky Bastard on Hulu here.
And it is available for purchase on Amazon here.


  1. I think I mentioned this on your 'Banshee Chapter' review, but I'm soooo burned out on Found Footage. It's usually just a means to dodge having a production camera due to budget, and that irks me. However, after reading this review, I'm going to definitely watch this one. You said the found footage aspect makes sense for this one, and you had me from there (laugh). Awesome review as always.

    1. It really doesn't feel that much like a found footage movie at all - nothing shaky or annoying - so I don't think you would mind it that much.

  2. "(...) how you can have the morals not to do anal porn, but be perfectly okay with doing rape porn!"
    Now that was odd indeed, though I heard of porn actresses who don't do facial cumshots, but have no problem with double penetration (anal AND vaginal), so I guess that might be plausible =)