The found footage fad isn’t going anywhere, so the challenge of filmmakers who choose this method of movie making is coming up with a semi-original idea for the genre. One of the problems I have with found footage is the notion that the person holding the camera is going to keep the camera rolling when all hell breaks loose. When I saw the first Paranormal Activity, I couldn’t have been the only person who thought, “Yeah right, as soon as the spirits start tossing things around the boyfriend sure isn’t going to keep filming. He’s going to drop the camera and run like any rational person!”
Director and co-writer, Robert Nathan, solved this problem by introducing a reality house, (think The Real World or Big Brother) where every room in the house is rigged with cameras, and also with the set-up of a porn website that uses amateurs for some of their online content. “Lucky Bastard,” in the movie, is a site that chooses a guy who frequents the site and he gets to have sex with a porn star on camera. Although my interest was piqued, I still expected some kind of exploitative soft core flick that showed T&A every five minutes. Lucky Bastard is not that kind of movie. Instead, it’s a drama about the dark side of the porn business, the illusion of movies, and fragile souls. It touches on similar themes that Boogie Nights does, but with a smaller and shorter running time.
The film opens in a provocative way: Police come up a murder scene in middle of the night, where bodies are scattered around the grounds of a San Fernando Valley McMansion. The mystery of what happened there and whether there are any survivors is the driving force behind the film. From that opening prologue, the “tapes” the police recovered provide the rest of the narrative.
We jump back a few days. Mike (Don McManus), the owner and operator of the Lucky Bastard website, is desperate for new content. He convinces veteran porn actress Ashley Saint (Betsy Rue) to participate in one of the Lucky Bastard webisodes for more than her usual rate. Being a single mom with two kids, she can’t pass up the extra cash. They choose a quiet, empathetic young man named Dave (Jay Paulson), whose story about his dead brother pulls at their heartstrings. Before long, Mike, Ashley and the Lucky Bastard film crew are picking up Dave at a train station and whisking him off to the house for his big moment. It doesn’t take long before you realize that Dave is a bit unstable and possible dangerous.
Lucky Bastard is a slow burn drama that builds the tension for most of the film. Yes there are several sex scenes that garnered the film its NC-17, yes there is a lot of foul language, and yes there are scenes of violence. However, the film is has some excellent acting and enough intrigue to hold my attention through to the end. Who survives? I’m not going to tell. If you’re willing to give this indie a chance, I think you’ll find it compelling.
Lucky Bastard opens 2/14/14 in New York, 3/7/14 in Los Angeles. For more information visit LuckyBastardMovie.com[youtube width=”602″ height=”350″ video_id=”SWSRpZi1Msk”]