PLOT: Following the death of her mother, angsty teen, Becky (Lulu Wilson) must spend the weekend at the family lake house while her dad tries to coax her into accepting his current fiancée as her soon-to-be stepmom. Things take a turn for the worse when a group of escaped Nazi convicts shows up, and Becky must direct that pent-up anger in the form of cold-blooded murder!
LOWDOWN: BECKY (WATCH IT HERE) is a mix between HOME ALONE, HANNAH, and THE GOOD SON. I loved where the trailer was headed but ended up turning it off. With spoiler-filled trailers being commonplace and marketing companies giving zero f*cks (they gave away 1917’s ONE big set-piece), I wanted to go into this as blind as possible, but I got one important thing from it: the R-rated and ultra-violent HOME ALONE vibe. One sub-genre that has always put a smile on my face is the revenge movie, and BECKY may be one of the best I’ve seen in years.
Directed by Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion, who did the underrated gore comedy COOTIES (which more people need to see ASAP), BECKY keeps up with that film’s hyper-violent tendencies but now tieing it into a more grounded story (spoilers – no zombies). This isn’t entirely unique and a tale you’ve seen many times, but Milott and Murnion make the smart choice by going for a slightly over-the-top approach. I was damn near blindsided by how this embraced its B-Movie roots. We get whip pans, Raimi-inspired zooms, and a level of gore that would be right at home with Paul Verhoeven. Though It takes a bit to get going, the tension’s beautifully built upon with unique scene transitions and intense close-ups. This is super-stylized at times and, in doing so, loses a bit of its tension, but anything lost is quickly made up by BECKY going full badass.
Not only does this movie flow like a beer from a well-maintained tap (god, I miss going to the bar), but it’s one pretty flick. There are more than a few times during the night scenes that a shot was so cinematic (Kevin James standing by the fire pit with a homemade eyepatch, for example) that I’d pay to see it in the Art Institute (minus the annoying tourists). With the punched-up saturation (the blood pops here), cinematographer Greta Zozula is the real MVP and milks everything she can out of the wooded setting. As the movie went on, things got more embellished, and I even got a slight hint of MANDY but without the acid. The third act (all at night) is where everything peaks. The style and tone build into this crescendo of bloody brutality, and everything goes off the rails in the best way possible, accompanied by a pulsating score by Nima Fakhrara.
Lulu Wilson owns this movie, and I had a riot with her turn as the troubled and irritable Becky. No stranger to the genre, she goes all in with her acting chops and gives a career-defining performance. Becky is a tough chick, while Wilson pulls off the brooding yet vulnerable balancing act with poise. Even if it’s unrealistic to have a kid take on a whole group of vicious convicts, Wilson is so committed to her character that I bought it hook, line, and sinker. Kevin James was the real gamble here as BECKY is being touted as his first dramatic role, and I’m here to tell you… he f*cking NAILED it. His portrayal of Dominick took me aback as the giant tough-as-nails Neo-Nazi. I was expecting something more forceful and exaggerated but got a more low-key, methodical character. He’s a hate-monger that believes in a “master race” but never lets his emotions dictate his actions. It’s a different direction than I expected but was pleasantly surprised by the range and talent Kevin James brought to the character.
On the whole, though, there isn’t much to complain about here. I would have preferred that the prison gang were bigger (more convicts = more kills), and I wish we could have spent more time with them before they arrived at the lake house. Not that I need to become invested with the cannon fodder, but the reason behind their break-out is a MacGuffin… that stays just that. If they developed them more and their violent tendencies, then the pleasure of watching them die would have been that much sweeter. Also, I feel like some decisions (sending one guy at a time) were made to keep the story going, and like I’ve said before, not PICKING THE GUN UP when another character drops it, is a big pet peeve of mine. These are minor complaints and don’t affect the overall story. Revenge flicks shouldn’t be overcomplicated, and BECKY is smart enough to focus on what matters most: killing Nazis.
GORE: There are some great kills with some surprisingly graphic gore. There’s even a scene that fits in perfectly with the Kane Hodder era of Jason, but to be any more specific would ruin an enormous part of BECKY.
BOTTOM LINE: We get brutal killings and a Bond villain-Esque henchman (the scene-stealing Robert Maillet), yet this didn’t turn into a caricature of excess or exploitation. Kevin James and Lulu Wilson commanded the screen with a one-two combo, giving BECKY the unique distinction of having her cake and eating it too. This tug-of-war between a harrowing tale and a drive-in classic is where BECKY finds its sweet spot. Destined to become a midnight movie, this has the star power and technical prowess to ascend to something greater, and hopefully, with Wilson’s talents, it will reach a well-deserved wide audience. BECKY is the type of movie you don’t see too often. One that stylistically embraces its darker side while joyfully kicking ass and never letting up.