It is always fun to see an actor go against type in an extreme fashion, particularly when it comes to comedy actors who rarely step out of their wheelhouse. That is part of the appeal when it comes to Becky, as it takes the cuddly comedic figure of Paul Blart Mall Cop himself Kevin James, and flips it on his head, turning him into a grizzled, bearded Neo-Nazis with a short fuse. While that may be the initial appeal going into Becky, it is likely you will come away from it being more impressed with its teenage star Lulu Wilson, who comes in and tears the whole thing to shreds in a comically gory fashion.
Angry and grief-stricken Becky is finding it hard to move forward following her mother's death one year ago, while her Dad (Joel McHale) seems to be ready to move on. When Becky reluctantly takes a trip to the lakehouse from her childhood with her Dad and his new girlfriend, Kayla (Amanda Brugel) and her son Ty (Isaiah Rockcliffe), things take an unexpected turn with the arrival of a group of escaped convicts. Led by the ruthless Dominick (Kevin James), Becky's Dad, Kayla and Ty are taken hostage, while she manages to escape to the woods. It is now up to Becky to save the day.
On the surface of it, Becky looks set to be a Die Hard type action flick, where Becky looks to use her anger in an effort to save her family from a group of evildoers, using the situation to exorcise her grief and hit the refresh button on the relationships in her life. A one teenage girl army, where the bad guys are on her turf, and she uses her wits and limited resources to maximum effect. However, it soon becomes clear that this isn't quite the case. Becky isn't John McClane, she's more Jason Voorhees.
Becky is a wickedly violent thriller that ends up more resembling a hardcore slasher movie than it does an action movie. There's a creative use of practical effects to present moments of shocking gore, moments which often have a mischievous twinkle sprinkled in to keep things entertaining. Part of that comes from Wilson's rage-filled performance, but largely it comes from just how extreme it all gets. As the violence increases and the bodies start piling up, it soon becomes clear that this isn't a story about retribution and reconciliation, it is more a descent into hell as the situation pushes Becky deeper into her anger to a point where you fear there is no return.
It is a film that ends up having quite a bleak and pessimistic outlook, but one that does acknowledge that exacting such violence is more than likely going to have a damaging effect on the characters performing it than most other action movies would be keen to express. It does mean that come the end there isn't much of a sense of satisfaction from the proceedings, but it is effective in the way that it challenges you to consider what it is you were hoping to get from the experience, not just from this movie but from other movies with a similar premise that sees one lead character dispatch bad guys in as grisly a fashion as possible.
Speaking of the bad guys, James cuts an imposing figure as Dominick, but very much becomes a less convincing character as he is given more dialogue and exposition. While the exact true nature of his motivation is left somewhat vague (he needs a key that's going to help incite a great purge or something), he's a character that becomes less interesting the more we learn about him, and less threatening as it builds to a finale that ends up falling a little short. The script is undoubtedly the weakest element of this whole thing, never quite as funny or as clever as you feel it wants to be when it comes to the dialogue. The film very much belongs to Wilson as Becky, putting in a committed and often shocking turn, very much marking her out as one to watch going forward.
Becky is never quite the film you're expecting even if the dressings look familiar. It is a grisly gory slasher flick more than it is an action thriller, and has a little more to say about an audience's relationship with violence on screen than you may be expecting. That its script isn't quite up to the task with a final act that doesn't quite stick the landing is compensated by some effective use of practical effects and a head-turning performance from Lulu Wilson. A blood-splattered B-movie ride that, much like its main character, shouldn't be underestimated.
DOP: Greta Zozula
Music: Nima Fakhrara
Runtime: 100 minutes
Becky is available on demand from September 28th 2020.