Lucky Bastard, Buried in the Found Footage Genre

Betsy Rue and Don McManus in Lucky Bastard. ©Vineyard Haven, LLC

I’d like to say that this was not my first choice for a cozy movie night. I’m frequently very picky when it comes to titles that are worth my time. I chose to watch Lucky Bastard because the concept managed to separate itself far enough from the dog pile of found footage films in the horror genre. If you haven’t heard of this film before now, you might be shocked to find this particular story is based around a small online porn company that specializes in the risqué. But what makes this a horror film, is the introduction of a very dangerous, murderous man.

This porn site offers an interesting sub-genre of videos entitled ‘Lucky Bastard’, where they offer fans the opportunity to have sex with porn stars on camera. The gimmick ultimately focuses on the hilarious fumbling fondles of these nervous, excited amateur performers for the audiences’ benefit. The director and entrepreneur Mike (Don McManus) collaborates with his leading lady Ashley Saint (Betsy Rue) to pick their latest victim. However, despite Dave’s (Jay Paulson) endearing video entry, he is not what he seems. As the film progresses, a trail of breadcrumbs gradually leads us to Dave’s hidden nature.

While the subject matter of this film is particularly raunchy, I’d say Lucky Bastard managed to float above the superficial surface of your average T&A gore flick. What surprised me the most was the compelling performances of most of the characters that made it an easier experience to watch. Mike was by far the most capturing representation of skilled writing. Surpassing the stereotype of sleazy porn director, Don McManus crafted consistent simultaneous compassion and repulsion by executing his lines with true believability. In fact, the story felt more about him than anyone else, including our ‘lucky bastard’.

I have several bones to pick with the overall structure and execution of this film. Firstly, the beginning. It isn’t the first time a found footage film has started its story by featuring the police footage of the carnage depicting the mayhem we are in store to watch, but something about Lucky Bastard’s use of this tactic ruined the disbelief before the story even began. To make matters worse, when that foreshadowing transitioned into the present, we were introduced to a handful of characters in a situation that struggled to make sense. It’s clear to this viewer that the director obviously intended to mislead the audience for suspense’s sake, but instead the obnoxious performances and misplaced pauses confused the plot once again.

Don McManus in Lucky Bastard. ©Vineyard Haven, LLC

In addition to the rough start, when it comes to developing a psychotic killer, the creation of Dave, real name Earnest, missed the mark. For the duration of the film I struggled to compile a clear, concise image of Dave, and the reasoning behind his motives. At first, it appeared he was intentionally placing himself in the center of the scene for the purpose of perhaps eradicating his perception of ‘evil behavior’. Conversely, when the role of the ‘lucky bastard’ proves more humiliating than he expected, Dave becomes enraged like a poked bull, seemingly set off by the teasing of these strangers. Ultimately, this confusion dissipated any amount of fear I could have had.

To conclude, I would not recommend this movie to anyone. Inserts of simulated sex could not save this mishmash of convoluted story. In fact they were more obnoxious than offensive. I genuinely hope to see Don McManus in any role, feeling very confident he will provide a dynamic performance. My disappointment in this film should not dictate the director’s attempt at another film. There was obvious potential despite Lucky Bastard’s flaws. This film however, can stay buried in the found footage genre as far as I’m concerned.

About Lola Savage

A tenacious young writer from North Carolina, Lola and movies are like peas in a pod. Her creative outlet filtered itself into writing reviews of horror films for fans, by fans on the site She's particular, and not afraid to say it, preferring unique indie films over the heft of Hollywood releases.

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