June 1, 2020 Becky (Movie Review)
There once was a little girl, and when she was good, she was very, very good. But when she was bad? She was horrible! Lulu Wilson stars in Becky, a brand new Thriller that arrives to Digital, On Demand, as well as select theaters and drive-ins as of Friday, June 5, 2020, thanks to Quiver Distribution.
Thirteen-year-old Becky (Wilson: Annabelle: Creation 2017, The Haunting of Hill House series) is not exactly your average spunky and rebellious teen. Sullen and withdrawn thanks to the death of her mother, she is having trouble connecting with her father, Jeff (Joel McHale: Community series, Deliver Us from Evil 2014). Any progress that is made throughout the drive to the family’s lake house vacation is tossed out the window with the arrival of dad’s girlfriend Kayla (Amanda Brugel: The Handmaid’s Tale series, Snowpiercer series), and her adorable young son, Ty (Isaiah Rockcliffe: The Expanse series, The Handmaid’s Tale series). Spending some time together, along with their beloved pooches Dora and Diego, Jeff is hopeful that everyone can learn to coexist happily.
Alas, their vacation is about to be interrupted by a group of escaped convicts led by the merciless Dominick (Kevin James: The King of Queens series, Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2009). Hellbent on recovering a hidden object from the lake house property, Dominick and his lackeys could not have predicted that the outcome of their ‘simple’ home invasion would be tested by the ferocity of one young girl who is very, very pissed off.
Clocking in at 93 minutes, Becky was directed by the tag team duo of Cary Murnion and Jonathan Milott (Cooties 2014, Bushwick 2017), and written by Nick Morris with Lane and Ruckus Skye (Rattle the Cage 2015, The Devil to Pay 2019). The film also features the acting talents of Robert Maillet (Sherlock Holmes 2009, Pacific Rim 2013), Ryan McDonald (Bad Blood series, The Magicians series), James McDougall (ABCs of Death 2 2014, Condor series), and more.
Billed as a Thriller, Becky should be considered a Horror-Thriller for its brazen gore and violence. Blending the home invasion gone awry trope with threads of crime, revenge, and survivalist thrills, this moviegoing experience can be best described, however oddly, as 1990’s Home Alone meets 2009’s Last House on the Left remake. Rated R, while there is no sexual assault depicted herein, there is plenty to turn the stomachs of any easily nauseated audience members. Considering Becky sports one of the most cringe-inducing scenes in recent film, you have been forewarned!
But it’s not all blood, guts, and severed optic nerves. Becky sports some beautifully well-done cinematography from Greta Zozula (Materna 2020, The Half of It 2020), who focuses on the natural splendor of the landscape to contrast the ugliness of humanity. In fact, it is the thoughtful presentation of this harsh story that elevates the film, offering something that, while often gruesome, certainly has its merits.
Much of that success is due to teen titan Wilson. Her Becky is a complex young woman who borders on sociopathy, and yet it’s hard not to consider her as an iconic Horror hero. Donning a knit fox beanie with massive ears, she rages through the forest, turns an everyday item into a shocking shiv, and systematically takes out one bad guy after the next. Like Louise Belcher on crack, Wilson’s Becky is a strong-willed, vindictive and foul-mouthed badass. Definitely more deadly than Kevin McCallister, Wilson presents an empowering spin on the often helpless Scream Queen: a coming-of-age woman who is willing to offer up a primal roar as she easily outfoxes her enemies one by one.
Certainly meek characters could not be cast alongside such a brazen lead. Thus, James’ Dominick is a collected, fairly intelligent and ruthless criminal who will send shivers up your spin with his velvety calm. As James is known for his comedy, it’s intriguing to see the actor flex his wings and deliver a truly unnerving performance as the baddest of the bad. Similarly, we know and love McHale for his wit, but his role here is a serious one—a conflicted but loving father and widower. Together, both James and McHale deliver strong performances as they set Wilson up to shine.
Not to be overlooked, Brugel is able to have her own moment in the spotlight, displaying the more subtle fire to her character Kayla. And as the “unreasonably large, scary one,” Apex, Maillet gives a commendable performance as the soft-spoken but massive convict with a shred of conscience. Meanwhile, his brothers in crime, McDonald and McDougall, offer up two very impressive death scenes. Not to be forgotten, that little Rockcliffe is just adorable.
All positives aside, there is one major issue with Becky. Simply put, the entire reason for the felons to invade the lake house rests on a wobbly foundation. We learn what object Dominick is madly in search of, but the significance of that item and the need for its ownership are never fully detailed. So many questions arise from this fact, perhaps the most important being why this house? What is Dominick’s previous relationship to the lake home? (And why did someone Sharpie a swastika tattoo onto the back of James’ head for the role?)
This aside, Becky is a truly enjoyable foray into the Horror-Thriller. One that places a teenager at the center of the murderous mayhem—pitting a psychologically traumatized heroine who has nothing left to lose against a group of dog-fearing felons. Delivering powerful performances from its entire cast, particularly Wilson, James and McHale, along with some creatively grotesque demises, this is a guaranteed good time for anyone twisted enough to love a bloody revenge flick. For this, Cryptic Rock gives Becky 4 of 5 stars. Pencils and rulers were never this deadly in school!