When you think of young adult fare labeled horror, certain movies may come to mind such as Twilight or Goosebumps, but thankfully Becky isn’t for younger viewers even though the main character is one. Becky (Lulu Wilson), both the movie and the character, are ultra-violent entities that are capable of surprising the audience with just how bloody-thirsty they both really are.
It’s not that you haven’t seen all this before; a distraught teen in the midst of puberty struggles to control her emotions. But Becky’s are exacerbated because she has recently lost her mother to cancer and her father (Joel McHale) has proposed to another woman (Amanda Brugel). To celebrate the engagement he has brought all of them together for the weekend at their secluded vacation home situated in the woods.
As basic and derivative as the set-up might be, the film rises above itself thanks to the performances by its stars to become one of the best horror movies of the year. Fast-paced and brutal, Becky should satisfy genre devotees looking for action, unflinching gore, and gratifying kills.
As stated before Becky is struggling to move on after the death of her mother and is resentful that her father has seemingly already done so. This leads to angry exchanges between them once they reach their vacation home and when her dad’s new fiance shows up with her young son (Isaiah Rockcliffe), our miserable Becky takes one of their two large dogs and self-isolates inside her wooden fort located a small distance from the main cottage.
Meanwhile, a group of violent prisoners are in transit to another facility and orchestrate an escape from their transport vehicle in one of the more improbable aspects of the film. Their psycho leader, Dominick, played by Kevin James, is on the hunt for a key which is hidden—you guessed it—somewhere in the family’s vacation home. James, known more for his likable dorky sitcom characters, burns up the scenery working against type and if you didn’t get the message, he has a large swastika tattooed on the back of his bald head.
Once the gang invades the home and holds Becky’s family at gunpoint, she spies them from her fort and witnesses her other dog being shot. She springs into action unbeknownst to the criminals who have no idea she’s there.
What follows is a cat and mouse game reminiscent of Die Hard and Home Alone. Becky, like the former, is a blood bath. The teenager sets up traps, instigates their rage, and confronts them every chance she gets by way of a walkie talkie. This could have been a film fueled by that gimmick alone, but the actors don’t take the script for granted and directors Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion keep the pace tighter than fishing line.
Although most people will be curious about Kevin James’ performance since this is his grand departure from comedy, this is Lulu Wilson’s movie.
Wilson, unlike James, is no stranger to horror. Although she usually goes up against supernatural foes as in Ouija: Origin of Evil and Annabelle: Creation, in a way, like James, she is also playing outside her zone. Fighting demons against a green screen or CGI is a lot different than going up against flesh and bone actors and practical special effects.
Whereas the kid in Home Alone set up a paint can to hit his pursuers in the face, Becky wants it to go through their skulls, don’t let this dragon slayer’s pretty blue eyes fool you. Wilson has it all under control as she goes from emotionally troubled to bellicose. Hollywood take notice.
As for James, even though he’s all beard and tattoos, he doesn’t feel as threatening as he should be. That honor goes to Robert Maillet as Apex, the unpredictable convict who towers over the rest of the cast.
There is one particular scene with James and a large brass key that will make squeamish people look away. James is brave to jump from comedy to horror and although the saying may be that comedy is the hardest medium, horror is no slouch. He is fine here as the villain but he never really rises above the trope enough to make him as truly terrifying as his dialogue hopes he will be.
Cinematographer Greta Zozula has got all the action under control and has so much confidence in the gory practical effects she lingers on them even in daylight. Music fans will also find plenty to love in Nima Fakhrara’s synth-pounding score.
With a movie like Becky you can’t help but point out the borrowed parts of better-known action films. But the cast and crew are of such great chemistry they have forged a movie that is greater than the sum of its parts. Bloody, relentless, and often surprising, viewers will most likely come away ironically praising its originality rather than its homage. And that’s quite a feat to pull off in this age of remakes, reboots and reimaginings.
Becky is On Demand and Digital and at select drive-ins on June 5, 2020