Becky is the third movie from directors Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion, who previously gave us the horror comedy Cooties and the excellent, but highly underrated, terrorist militia thriller Bushwick. Becky lands them in straight genre territory as it pits the eponymous thirteen-year-old girl against a gang of Neo-Nazi convicts.
Becky (Lulu Wilson) and her father Jeff (Joel McHale) take a weekend trip to their lake house. Becky is unable to cope with the loss of her mother, despite Jeff’s attempts to encourage her to move on. At the lake house they meet Jeff’s girlfriend Kayla (Amanda Brugel) and her son Ty (Isaiah Rockcliffe). Relationships are immediately strained and Becky retreats to her treehouse. At the same time, a home invasion is staged by a gang of escaped prisoners, led by Dominik (Kevin James). They are searching for a key, hidden somewhere in the house, and they’re determined to hold the family hostage until they find it.
Becky is a very entertaining genre movie and although it doesn’t really do anything new, there is definitely something to be said for doing something well – so familiarity no longer matters. In Becky’s case, that means a one-person-against-the-odds set up and a bunch of great kills. And make no mistake, Becky goes to some dark places and gets really bloody doing so.
The big draw, as far as the cast is concerned, is obviously Kevin James playing entirely against type as Neo-Nazi Dominck. He’s very good, believable as a thug, and plays it understated rather than opting to chew the scenery. Which certainly works for the most part, although it might have been good to see him really cut loose at some stage. Lulu Wilson (The Haunting Of Hill House), Joel McHale (Community) and Amanda Brugel (The Handmaid’s Tale) are also great, as is towering ex-wrestler Robert Maillet (aka Kurrgan).
On the downside, the key the convicts are searching for, and thus the main driver of the plot, is disappointingly underwritten. The movie teases us with snippets of information that never go anywhere, leaving the basic point of the antagonist’s actions as a mystery. After a while it starts to feel less like a lack of explanation and more like an absence of one entirely.
To balance it back out, Becky does a lot of things really well. Not least the violence, which is both imaginative and alarming coming from the hand of a thirteen-year-old. As Becky dons a knitted hat replete with animal ears and weaponises her pencil case, the movie becomes Home Alone meets Louise from Bob’s Burgers meets Die Hard.
In all seriousness, there is weight to the violence in Becky. By focusing early on Becky’s grief at the loss of her mother, there is consequence to the actions. Although there is a fun time to be had in the grisly details, the direction we go in is a shadowy one. The convicts are also surprisingly nuanced for a film of this type, avoiding their expected single dimension by experiencing attacks of conscience and moral struggle.
By the end, the good far outweighs the bad. Becky will definitely appeal to horror fans, people keen to see every Die Hard variant imaginable, and those in the mood for a tense and bloody game of cat and mouse.
‘Becky’ hits select Australian cinemas on September 10th (Victoria to follow post-lockdown). The film had its US release on June 5th.