Digital Review – Becky (2020)

Don’t go into Becky expecting a high art style horror film and instead go in expecting a full-throttle action horror that will somehow still stick with you long after the credits.

Becky (Lulu Wilson) continues to struggle a year after her mother’s death and pushes all those around her away, mainly here father Jeff (Joel McHale). This is compounded when Jeff tries to tell Becky that he and his new partner (Amanda Brugal) intend to marry, joining their two families. Sending Becky in a rage, she leaves their getaway weekend retreat. At the same time, escaped neo-Nazis led by Dominick (Kevin James) invade the house looking for something hidden there. Can Becky save her current and future family?

While the motives of our deranged supremacists is a tad sketchy, everything else around Becky works gangbusters. If it wasn’t for the ultra-violence and atmosphere in the film, this could very easily have become a by the numbers home invasion revenge flick. That being said there is a conversation to say that perhaps it goes just a smidge too far into the gruesome. Fans of pets will not be happy at all with this film for example, yes it shows how abhorrent these men are, but we get the picture after the first incident.

Lulu Wilson ably plays the role of a confused and almost broken teenager who is feeling more and more lost as time goes on. This is a visceral performance full of a wide range of emotions and for someone as young as she is, it further cements the buzz surrounding her. Becky is not an easy character to play no matter the age. There is real depth here from Wilson, with Becky continually on the edge or bursting at all times.

Losing a parent to cancer is hard, to do so at an early age will leave a teen so confused and angry. We see it here and add in the fact that her father wants to remarry (fairly quickly) after the death only mounts up the frustration inside Becky. A question then has to be asked, were these thoughts already deep in Becky before she acts out on our unsuspecting villains? Is Becky that far broken, that she was just needing an excuse (though to be fair this is a pretty good excuse) to enact on her suppressed violent tendencies?

It would take a big character change to make Kevin James seem threatening, yet Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion have been so successful here as James is an utter monster. A swastika-tattooed supremacist who isn’t afraid to leave a path of destruction behind him. This is a James that I would like to see more of, he is so emotionlessly threatening that you instantly forget his other credits.

What makes James’ Dominick so threatening other than his mini The Big Show (WWE fans will get it) look, is how quiet he is throughout. He doesn’t speak too much during the runtime. Some villains need to be talkers, yet sometimes the best are the ones that keep quiet. Would a person who could potentially kill you to be threatening as they wax lyrical about nothing, or would that big silent man scare the soul out of your body? This is a great performance and one that I hope we see more of instead of his Happy Madison characters.

It feels that it is a stretch to believe that a 13-year-old girl could try to fight against so many violent men, yet our directing duo makes it believable. What would a teenager who has pent up rage issues do when her own life is threatened? Yes, of course, how she outsmarts the captor’s ventures into the unbelievable. This is a film about a group of Nazi’s looking for a key to have white supremacists run the world, so what are we expecting?

She is going to be unpredictable and this characteristic works in spades. By having these men as total psychopaths who want to murder, it makes sense that they would stay where they are to make sure not a soul is left to give evidence about what they have done. These are men with no remorse and are against someone who has possibly even less. It is a great dynamic here.

Gory deaths are rife through Becky with each death as violent as the others in the horror Home Alone 80s exploitation film. For genre fans there is an absolute tonne to love here, despite as I say, it going a tad too far in some scenes. If this was used as a method for us to hope for gruesome deaths, then it is a job well done. A minor complaint is that Becky tends to go a little too slow in the pacing department. Especially in the first act where it could help with getting to the violence a bit quicker.

At times hard to watch, Becky is a perfectly effective B-movie homage that isn’t afraid to be a little bit more thanks to wonderful writing and performances from our two leads. Well worth a watch.

★★


Horror | USA, 2020 | 15 | Digital release 28th September| Vertigo Releasing | Dir. Jonathan Milott, Cary Murnion | Lulu Wilson, Kevin James, Joel McHale