09th Jun2020

‘Becky’ Review

by Matthew Turner

Stars: Lulu Wilson, Kevin James, Joel McHale, Ryan McDonald, Robert Mailett, Amanda Brugel, Isaiah Rockcliffe, James McDougall | Written by Nick Morris, Ruckus Skye, Lane Skye | Directed by Jonathan Milott, Cary Murnion

Co-directing duo Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion (Cooties, Bushwick) return for Becky, a smartly conceived home invasion thriller that plays like a twisted coming-of-age movie.

Rising star Lulu Wilson plays 13 year old Becky, who’s recently lost her mother to cancer and is horrified when her father Jeff (Joel McHale) tricks her into spending the weekend at their remote lakeside summer house with his new fiancée Kayla (Amanda Brugel) and her young son (Isaiah Rockcliffe). However, she barely has time to throw a strop before escaped convict Dominick (Kevin James) arrives with three henchmen in tow and begins torturing her father, demanding to know the whereabouts of a key.

When the convicts realise that Becky is hiding somewhere in the woods, a deadly game of cat and mouse ensues, but they have reckoned without Becky’s resourcefulness, to say nothing of her capacity for rage-fuelled violence.

Milott and Murnion build tension effectively, opening with some clever cross-cutting between the escaping prisoners and Becky getting picked up by her dad, and then establishing early on that Dominick and his men represent a serious threat. The film then takes the first of several surprise turns, when both the audience and the convicts suddenly realise just what Becky is capable of. Accordingly, there are a number of superbly staged gore moments, all of which are heightened by Milott and Murnion’s confident grasp of tone – indeed, it’s easy to imagine another director playing them for laughs, but here they’re pitched exactly right.

Lulu Wilson has already confirmed her horror credentials several times over in the likes of Ouija: Origin of Evil, Annabelle: Creation and The Haunting of Hell House. She confirms that early promise here, with a terrific lead performance, channelling all Becky’s pent-up anger into shocking violence. (The film is presented as a flashback, told from her perspective to the police, which plays an interesting game with audience expectations).

As for the supporting cast, James is effectively cast against type as the lead bad guy and he underplays it to strong effect. Similarly, wrestler-turned-actor Mailett makes a strong impression as Apex (Dominick’s lead henchman), while McHale reigns in his usual sarcastic persona to cast a suitably sympathetic figure as Becky’s dad.

The script’s strongest element is its level of invention when it comes to the gory bits, coupled with the ideas that it explores in terms of Becky’s mental state and her capacity for future violence. In that sense, the film is a lot of dark, gory fun, but it also leaves you with something to think about afterwards.

That’s not to say Becky isn’t entirely without problems. For one thing, Dominick is presented as an Aryan Brotherhood type (swastika tattooed on the back of his head, that sort of thing), but other than a loaded speech about dogs inter-breeding (aimed at Jeff and Kayla, an inter-racial couple), the script steers clear of that whole aspect. Similarly, the film’s attempt to create a mystery element backfires slightly, because it frustratingly leaves several questions unanswered. However, these are minor niggles that won’t affect your overall enjoyment of the film.

**** 4/5

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