[BD Review] Ain't No Happy Ending In Porn Thriller 'Lucky Bastard' - Bloody Disgusting
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[BD Review] Ain’t No Happy Ending In Porn Thriller ‘Lucky Bastard’

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Lucky Bastard is the directorial debut of Robert Nathan, who cut his teeth scripting police procedurals like Law & Order and Dragnet. Those credentials would suggest this found footage thriller would at least have a tightly wound script, and for the most part it does. The repetitiveness of the film’s second act really drags the sucker down though. Same goes for the reveal of the film’s conclusion in the first few minutes, which drains a lot of the suspense out of what could’ve been a gut punch of an ending.

Luckily for us bastards, the performances are really solid and make Lucky Bastard one to watch. A lot of viewers are going to be drawn in by the premise (PORN!), but that conceit quickly takes a backseat to the actors as they play out a highly offensive tale of a weary porn star, her vile boss, and the highly disturbed one-pump-chump who doesn’t take too kindly to being mocked.

“Lucky Bastard” is the name of an amateur porn site that provides its subscribers the opportunity to bang a porn star on camera. The site’s run by Mike (Don McManus), a self-made man who’s silver tongue and wallet have helped him become marginally successful in the porn world. Character actor McManus is truly great in this role. He doesn’t play Mike too slick, but he’s no doormat either. While it would’ve been easy to portray the owner of a porn company as a reptilian creep, McManus tones it down so Mike’s just an average creep.

Mike’s hottest star is Ashley Saint (Betsy Rue), who considers herself a professional – meaning she refuses to do anal or amateur. But she’s got kids to feed, so when Mike asks her to screw an average joe for “Lucky Bastard,” she reluctantly accepts. The bastard this time around is this real timid and awkward guy named Dave (Jay Paulson). After signing the release form, Dave, Ashley, Mike and his crew (that include Chris Wylde) head out to a rented home outfitted with hidden cameras leftover from a reality show.

Before even arriving at the house, it’s clear Dave is not who he seems. His shyness masks a violent menace and despite knowing what he was in for, he seems reluctant to let Ashley touch his dingus. Paulson (who many may recognize from Mad Men) is damn good in this role. He welcomes a great mix of sympathy and repulsiveness from viewers, although he takes it a bit over the top for my taste during the film’s final moments. He’s much better when he plays it restrained.

Remarkably, the film is not as gratuitous as the premise suggests. That being said, Lucky Bastard is graphic as hell – especially in sex and language. Violence, not so much. The found footage approach works really well here, particularly when they get to the house. Then it shifts mainly from handheld to the hidden cameras, which give it a reality show kinda feel. The film does a good job displaying the porn business as just that, a business. Ashley frequently refers to what she does as “acting” and Mike is faced with challenges that just about any small film shoot would experience.

During that second act though, the story becomes really repetitive. There’s a small build up of suspense, but it continually see-saws as Dave wants to fuck Ashley, then gets skittish, then wants to fuck Ashley, ad nauseam. All of this feet dragging leads up to a conclusion that was revealed in the first minutes of the film. Any suspense they did create is sucked out. It stinks even more because with two strong leads like Paulson and McManus, Lucky Bastard could’ve gone even deeper and darker than it is. At least those guys lift the film up and cushion those monotonous moments.

The premise and lead actors make Lucky Bastard one to watch. It’s also produced by horror veteran Jim Wynorski (Return of Swamp Thing, Chopping Mall) and edited by Hellraiser II director Tony Randel.

Check it out on VOD May 15.

Patrick writes stuff about stuff for Bloody and Collider. His fiction has appeared in ThugLit, Shotgun Honey, Flash Fiction Magazine, and your mother's will. He'll have a ginger ale, thanks.


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