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Found footage films are a dime a dozen these days, but LUCKY BASTARD – the new thriller from executive producer Lukas Kendall and director Robert Nathan - does something interesting in a genre basically confined to cheap horror films.

Instead of supernatural terror, “Lucky Bastard” generates tension through its unique  – particularly considering the genre – set-up, which follows the producers and stars of an online porn website. The crew, which includes saucy star “Ashley Saint” (Betsy Rue) and veteran, grizzled producer “Mike” (Don McManus), may have seen it all, but they get more than they bargained for when they opt to film a new web series. Their online show picks out one of the site’s members and enables them to live out their greatest fantasy – as in, copulating with Ms. Saint – all the while being filmed by the crew for the benefit of other members of the site. It’s basically a porn version of reality TV, complete with fake “recreations” made for the betterment of viewers at home (one of the film’s most entertaining elements in its script, written by Nathan and Kendall, is how it exposes various reality TV cliches, including the “first-time” introductions between its participants).

The “lucky bastard” of the film’s title is fan “Dave G.” (Jay Paulson), who has a sob story involving his brother’s passing in his history – an instant turn on for Mike and the show’s crew – and displays more than a fanboyish interest in Ashley’s background. When the moment comes for Dave to unleash his manhood on Ashley, things not only go wrong with his sexual libido, but his failure to perform soon becomes the least of the crew’s problems.

The second half of “Lucky Bastard” ratchets up the suspense and provides a crowd-pleasing succession of twists as Dave decides to exact his revenge on the show’s crew, but before it, the movie succeeds in establishing a believable set of characters. As with any of these “found footage” offerings, so much of the picture is dependent on the cast being convincing that a film can sink or swim just on that element alone. Fortunately the cast in “Lucky Bastard” sells the material perfectly, especially Rue, whose performance is especially effective in how she refuses to instill Ashley as having too much of a heart of gold (though make no mistake, she’s clearly the most sympathetic character viewers will be pulling for). First-time feature director Nathan, a veteran of numerous TV series like “Law & Order,” and veteran editor Tony Randel know how to push the audience’s buttons – so much that I expect “Lucky Bastard” will play most effectively with theatrical viewers, where audience interaction will be an asset.

“Lucky Bastard” is NC-17 rated and won’t be for everyone, though the picture ultimately isn’t gratuitous, especially considering the subject matter. In fact, outside of its porn story component, it’s a punchy, well-performed thriller that ultimately keeps your attention for all of its 90 minutes. A recommended view, especially for adventurous viewers.

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