Ashley Saint (Betsy Rue) is a popular Pornstar, who has worked on everything up to and including violent rape porn. Nonetheless, when her regular director Mike (Don McManus) wants her to work for his site “Lucky Bastard” she flatly refuses. “Lucky Bastard” is a porn site unlike the rest – they solicit applications from fans, one of whom gets to be the “Lucky Bastard” and have sex with one of Mike’s stable of stars on camera.
Having sex with an amateur is strictly against her principles, but when Mike ups his price Ashley relents and picks the nicest-seeming of the prospective Lucky Bastards from the video applications they’ve received – Dave G. However, when they pick Dave up from the train station it rapidly becomes clear that he is not the innocent nobody that he seemed, and when he is humiliated during the shoot, things quickly begin to spiral out of control.
Lucky Bastard is yet another entry into the now-vast category of “found-footage” horror/thriller movies, with the twist that because the majority of the action takes place on a porn shoot in a house that’s specially designed for filming from multiple angles at all times (Mike explains that it was purpose built for a reality TV show and now gets rented out by the hour to film crews) there’s actually not a lot of the “shaky cam” or extremely limited fixed angles that are usually a trademark of the genre. Instead the “found footage” element mostly means that the dialogue is very naturalistic (to the point of nearly sounding improvised at times) and that the movie doesn’t really progress according to a standard thriller or horror template.
Instead, we get extended scenes of the cast and crew getting set up and talking amongst themselves and get to know them and their assorted relationships, alliances, and tensions. Even when Dave comes on the scene and stuff starts to get out of hand, Mike attempts to do the sensible thing and get the clearly-agitated guy out of the picture as quickly and safely as possible. This means that instead of the slow-ratcheting tension you usually find in a thriller movie, Lucky Bastard moves along at a fairly sedate pace until suddenly everything goes wrong at once.
The downside of this approach is that the movie runs the risk of losing a chunk of its audience if they signed up for “horror” and get bored of waiting for it to start. On the other hand, this means that the film makers have the luxury of taking time to explore the characters and their relationships in depth – which in my opinion adds the impact when bad things start to happen, as well as providing an unusually candid and nonjudgmental look at the inner workings of the porn industry.
Lucky Bastard is a clever and thought-provoking movie, which perhaps suffers by self-identifying as “horror”. The characters are well-drawn and resist easy reduction into caricature, and the very specific nature of the rage that drives the central tragedy of the plot is complex and uncomfortable.
Lucky Bastard is available on DVD from MVD Visual.