One of the keys to nailing a "found footage" movie is to give your audience a good reason as to why cameras are always running -- even when mass carnage is underway. It's not always believable that a woman would hang on to a video camera while she's being chased by a raving maniac, but it is sort of believable if your horror movie is about a low-rent porno production whose very gimmick is to film everything. And, yes, the "Lucky Bastard" porno site most definitely aims to film "everything."
Surely that's enough of a hook to hang a movie on, right? Found footage, on a no-budget porno set, and the no-name nobody (aka the "lucky bastard") who gets to bed the sexy starlet is, of course, seriously unhinged and just about to explode in a tornado of impotent fury. So given that the head honcho wants everything filmed, and that the location is a house jam-packed with not-so-hidden cameras, Lucky Bastard seems to (at least) justify why everything has been captured on film. Whether or not the found footage / porno-centric / psycho killer combination works as a total package is up to the individual viewer, but one thing a movie like this must have is some internal logic.
A lot of what (writer/director) Robert Nathan and (co-writer) Lukas Kendall shoot for finds its mark: at its finest and most unsettling moments, Lucky Bastard aims to be a porn-themed take on something like Man Bites Dog or Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer -- which is not to say that it succeeds on the level of those films, but at least we're dealing with filmmakers who are more interested in a fictional yet realistic documentation of madness, and not just a string of murders that were shot with a swanky new digital camera.
Lucky Bastard is almost alarmingly frank in its subject matter (indeed, it's being released with an NC-17 rating, almost certainly for its simulated sex scenes and not for its gruesome yet fairly standard violent streak), and the screenplay occasionally gets down to some interesting thematic material regarding obsession, empowerment, and the slippery slope of sexual politics. It doesn't hurt that the actors are actually quite good, particularly Jay Paulson as the slowly unraveling lucky bastard, veteran character actor Don McManus as a sleazy producer with a small streak of decency (not the other way around), and Betsy Rue and Catherine Annette as sex stars who are interesting even with their clothes on.
If the premise and the set-up are the most provocative components of Lucky Bastard, then the relative shortcomings would have to crop up in Act III. Once all the cards are played and the film becomes less of a thriller and more of a horror show, Lucky Bastard begins to suffer from languid pacing, redundant volleys of dialogue, and an approach to "body count" that lacks in thrills what it provides in ice-cold meanness.
Despite those home-stretch missteps there's still a lot of dark, stark, and intriguing material to be found in Lucky Bastard. Like the film or hate it, it seems clear that the filmmakers were shooting for a little bit more than just "porn concept + horror movie = guaranteed interest." I'm sure the NC-17 rating won't hurt the film's infamy, either, but we're all adults here and who really cares about MPAA ratings? The flick may get a lot of press for its explicit sexuality and thematic material, but for the most part Lucky Bastard is a frank, fascinating, and decidedly "adult" piece of horror filmmaking.