Movie review: Porn horror flick “Lucky Bastard” misses the mark

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From the March 13, 2014 edition

“Lucky Bastard” is a found-footage horror story about the film industry. No, not that one. The other film industry.

Lucky Bastard is a porn website run by middle-aged porn producer Mike (Don McManus). Their angle in the saturated world of online porn is that an everyday guy can win a chance to have sex with a porn star on camera.

Mike’s star for this production is Ashley Saint (Betsy Rue), a porn veteran full of “it’s just a job” weariness who is mostly concerned with paying the bills as a single mom with two kids.

The “winner” of the latest contest is Dave (Jay Paulson), a mousy guy who seems exactly like the sort of person who would enter this sort of contest. But when the shoot doesn’t go as planned (or does it?), a humiliated Dave takes violent revenge.

The porn site setup — and a convenient location with dozens of wall-mounted cameras left over from a reality show — allows director Robert Nathan to work more angles into his found-footage guise, and he occasionally toys with a smarter critique of the culture, though the film is not as clever as it thinks.

With its graphic sex and violence, “Bastard” is being released with a rare NC-17 rating — and thankfully we still have independent theaters in Columbus with the guts to book these movies. A violent scene implicating rape takes place in the first five minutes, and the inclusion of that ugly start isn’t forgiven by the eventual punishment of its perpetrators.

It’s most interesting that people in the porn industry are portrayed as, well, people. But this adds to the moral conundrum of the film itself, as the grotesque violence perpetrated later in the film is served up against people we know have lives.

Ultimately, “Lucky Bastard” only rises marginally above the sleazy titillation of its premise.

Photo courtesy of Cavu Pictures