You know the world has turned upside down when Kevin James is playing a neo-nazi. The actor is better known for his comedic turns in films such as Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Grown Ups and Pixels, as well as his TV show The King of Queens. He’s always been a very warm, goofy screen presence, so it’s quite jarring to see the actor here with a shaven head and a swastika tattooed on his bald head.
But this is exactly what Becky offers us.
Plenty of Familiar Faces
The titular Becky is a 13-year-old troubled girl, who finds life irritating and overwhelming after the death of her mother. Becky’s dad Jeff picks her up from school early and surprises the teen with a trip to their beloved lake house. Becky’s joy is spoiled when Jeff’s new girlfriend Kayla and her son Ty pull up. Becky shows open hostility towards both and soon escapes to the woods after the happy couple announces their engagement. While Becky is destroying stuff in the woods, a man comes by the house claiming to have lost his dog.
Spoiler alert, there’s no missing dog.
The man is Dominick, played by James to frightening heights, and Dominick is here for a key, which – you guessed it – Becky has found. It’s just too bad that Dominick and his goons have no idea what they’re against when Becky starts wreaking havoc.
Becky is a delightfully unhinged film; it’s gloriously violent and Lulu Wilson absolutely nails Becky’s dangerous, violent tendencies. Nothing here is watered down and Becky proves itself to be a very violent affair. The film works best as mindless entertainment and there’s much to admire in Wilson’s committed performance.
Twists and Kills
At times Becky feels a little tired; it utilises a tired structure by starting at the end with Becky telling the police of the events that unfolded at the house before jumping back to the beginning of the narrative. It guarantees that there will be a twist, something that’ll make us see the scenes at the police station in a different light, which spoils the viewing experience a little.
Becky also proves itself to be a film that isn’t particularly watertight. It’s perfectly entertaining on the first watch but doesn’t stand any further analysing or examining. The film is well-paced and relatively short at 100 minutes, but there’s a sense that a longer cut exists which might offer some more answers and could also make the narrative more logical. While it doesn’t really matter what the precious key really opens or how Becky came across it, it would have made for a much more believable and whole narrative. This is a film that works on the first watch, but the more you think about it, the less you’ll probably like it.
But it’s not really the story that keeps Becky going. Let’s be honest, we’re not here for character arcs or even the story itself, necessarily. We’re here to see a 13-year-old girl kick some serious butt and Becky has that in buckets, with a surprisingly engaging twist. What begins as a simple revenge narrative soon twists into an exploration of a possibly dangerous and deranged mind. If you envisioned this to be a Home Alone in the woods, chances are Becky will disappoint you with its liberal blood-shedding and sadistic kills.
The cinematography by Greta Zozula is excellent. The camera moves chaotically while capturing the physicality of Wilson’s performance and Becky’s rage. The kills are appropriately gnarly and there’s one specific act of violence and its aftermath, which will make you either puke or cheer, depending on your opinion on cinematic violence. Sometimes the camera fails to keep up with the action and the cinematography is a little too chaotic, drowning out what’s happening on screen.
Why Isn’t Lulu Wilson A Bigger Star?
Wilson is staggeringly good as the titular Becky. Wilson leans heavily and fearlessly into Becky’s more psychotic tendencies and it makes for a thrilling protagonist if you can call Becky that. It’s a neat twist of the final girl trope, but also one that could have withstood so much more than what the script by Nick Morris, Ruckus Skye and Lane Skye offers for Wilson to work with. Her work here begs the question of why Wilson isn’t a bigger star and in every single film, her magnetic screen presence promises her to go on to a long and prospering career.
While the script might be weak in terms of building the narrative and allowing for character development, it does manage to turn all of Becky’s negative qualities into her strengths. Kayla notes that Becky is “as strong-willed and vindictive as they come” and it’s certainly interesting to see a character this unsympathetic and downright unpleasant to gain the upper hand specifically thanks to her terrible characteristics.
Joel McHale plays Becky’s father, but is criminally underused and on autopilot. This is very clearly a two-hander for James and Wilson and as such, perfectly adequate. If the script went as far with the dynamic between Dominick and Becky as it does with the violence, Becky would be a much better film. Robert Maillet plays the brilliantly named Apex, whose main function is just to be very large on-screen. To really paint a picture of just how large he is, Apex punches a very large dog mid-sprint, bringing him straight down.
James is great, making his character physically alarming, but the character of Dominick is let down by a weak script. Does Dominick need to be a neo-nazi to be scary? Physically, James is a threatening presence and the character could have worked equally well as a regular criminal or a killer. Bringing the Aryan Brotherhood into the mix seems a tad lazy, as if directors Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion didn’t need to put any more effort into making Dominick threatening.
Becky is a lot of fun and will work for those seeking thrills and bloody kills. Lulu Wilson shines as the titular Becky, but the talented cast deserved a better script and more concise direction. It will divide audiences, but it’s hard not to admire Milott and Murnion’s ambition and sheer balls to bring something this demented on screen. Becky is a film that demands to be seen with your mates and a trip to the pub is a must to discuss this totally bonkers film.
What did you think of Becky? Were you convinced by Kevin James’ performance? Let us know in the comment section!
Becky is available digitally June 5th.
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