×

Film Review: ‘Lucky Bastard’

This creaky found-footage thriller offers a preachy look at the world of pornography.

With:

Betsy Rue, Don McManus, Jay Paulson, Christ Wylde, Catherine Annette, Lee Kholafai.

A new low for found-footage films, “Lucky Bastard” uses a porno shoot as the stage for a thriller with little mystery and lots of pointless moralizing. Adequately re-creating the look and feel of many amateur sex videos, director/co-writer Robert Nathan follows a porn star (Betsy Rue) and her producer (Don McManus) as they begin shooting an adult movie co-starring an obviously disturbed fan (John Paulson), leading the pic down a tedious, ill-constructed path toward its preachy conclusion. It’s hard to imagine anyone beyond those curious about the premise to seek out “Bastard,” given its NC-17 rating.

Whether viewers believe that pornography is a terrible business or not, “Lucky Bastard” will do little to convince them to change their minds, much less believe the film is justified in “punishing” those who work in the profession (“If you play with fire … you eventually get burned,” reads one of the opening title cards). Nathan’s approach to the subject is hardly enlightening, opting for banal and obvious truths even as it operates in something close to snuff-film territory.

Eliminating any suspense over how the possible shoot might go down, the pic opens with police footage of a house with four bloody, beaten bodies inside. It then flashes back to a week earlier, introducing us to star Ashley Saint (Rue), who is shown being tricked and then raped during a video shoot that turns out to be “just a performance.”

Despite her ambivalence, she’s pushed into doing a “Lucky Bastard” video by her sleazy producer, Mike (McManus), which will involve her having sex with one of her fans. When they choose the seemingly innocent-looking Dave G (Paulson), his awkward demeanor and too-personal knowledge put Ashley on red alert, while Mike pushes them to continue. After an arduous buildup, during which the shoot goes wrong due to “technical issues,” Dave is sent away, only to return on a murderous rampage.

The house the crew shoots in (an actual porn set) justifies the presence of continually running cameras, and the combination of a legitimate found-footage concept and the porn industry could have led to any number of interesting thematic concerns related to the blurry line between reality and performance, exploitation and control. Any ideas, however, are shortchanged here, brought up casually in banal dialogue and then shunted aside so Nathan can focus on the thriller’s violent aspects.

None of the murders is particularly well staged (the sound effects feel distinctly off), yielding little in the way of suspense. While the characters try to draw sympathy by stating that they’re just doing a job or saving up money for their kids, it’s clear that they’re really there to be punished for their wrongdoing, leaving the viewer with little to do but enjoy the spectacle of their downfall.

Technical aspects are perhaps the film’s strongest aspect.

Film Review: 'Lucky Bastard'

Reviewed online, New York, Feb. 5, 2014. Running time: 94 MIN.

Production:

A Vineyard Haven production. Produced by Jim Wynorski. Executive producers, Luckas Kendall, Robert Nathan, Ashley Saint.

Crew:

Directed by Robert Nathan. Screenplay, Luckas Kendall, Robert Nathan; Camera (HD, Color, Widescreen), Clay Westervelt; editor, Tony Randel; production designer, Eugene Bowen; sound editor, Michael. J. McDonald; visual effects supervisor, Emery Carrol; assistant director, Ricardo Smith.

With:

Betsy Rue, Don McManus, Jay Paulson, Christ Wylde, Catherine Annette, Lee Kholafai.

More Film

  • BAFTA headquarters at 195 Piccadilly, London

    BAFTA Undertakes Major Renovation of Its London Headquarters

    BAFTA has undertaken a major renovation of its London headquarters that will double the building’s capacity and increase space devoted to the British academy’s programs to promote skills training and new talent. Work has already begun on the $31 million overhaul, which is expected to take two years. In the interim, BAFTA will relocate its [...]

  • Andhadhun

    Booming Digital Lifts Eros Indian Film Distribution Giant

    Eros International, India’s largest and most controversial film distributor, says that its digital revenues now outstrip conventional theatrical and syndication revenues. Its Eros Now streaming platform claims 18.8 million paying subscribers. The New York-listed company reported annual results that were distorted by multiple adjustments to presentation. Reported revenues in the year to end of March [...]

  • The Eight Hundred (The 800)

    Second Huayi Brothers Film Is Canceled as Company's Losses Mount

    Still reeling from the cancellation of the theatrical release of its blockbuster “The Eight Hundred,” production studio Huayi Brothers has been hit with another setback: Its comedy “The Last Wish” has also been quietly pulled from China’s summer lineup. Both films have fallen afoul of China’s increasingly heavy-handed censors. The unwelcome development comes as Huayi [...]

  • Sean AstinCritics' Choice Awards, Arrivals, Los

    Film News Roundup: Sean Astin Cast in 'Mayfields Game,' 'Charming the Hearts of Men'

    In today’s film news roundup, Sean Astin gets two roles, two “Peanuts” movies are set for release, “One Last Night” gets distribution and Brian De Palma gets honored. CASTINGS Sean Astin has been cast in a pair of upcoming feature films: “Mayfield’s Game” opposite Mira Sorvino and “Charming The Hearts of Men” opposite Kelsey Grammer. Astin [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content