Loss affects everyone differently...
...Some cry. Others grow angry. While means of coping may differ, those in mourning are all looking for a way to release the inherent pain of loss. Some isolate. Some surround themselves with loved ones. And then some, such as 13-year-old Becky (Lulu Wilson), find catharsis in slaughtering Nazis with household implements.
From directors Cary Murnion and Jonathan Milott (Bushwick, Cooties), Becky is a breakneck piece of home invasion horror. After losing her mother to cancer, Becky's relationship with her father, Jeff (Joel McHale) is at an all-time low. Making matters worse, Jeff breaks the news that he's going to marry his new girlfriend, Kayla (Amanda Brugel). And that's before their contentious lake-house weekend evolves into a nightmarish home invasion by fugitive Nazis (led by none other than Kevin James). Now she must grapple with her emotional turmoil and the intruders threatening what's left of her family.
First and foremost, horror alum Lulu Wilson (The Haunting of Hill House, Annabelle: Creation) is terrific. Her rollercoaster character arch of a child grappling with loss is poignant and, on some level, relatable to everyone. We see her struggle to leave behind her painful past while juggling her tumultuous relationship with her father. Her rage is palpable as it continuously grows to new unimaginable levels, becoming increasingly difficult for her to contain. Utilizing this rage rather than it being a hindrance is the edge she needs to take back her home from the Nazi intruders.
This invasion materializes into Becky singlehandedly hunting down each Nazi, and dispatching of them in increasingly gruesome ways. Despite the film's somewhat slow start, the film eventually evolves into a Rambo esque game of cat and mouse, with her being outnumbered but never outsmarted.
Despite Becky's R-rating, some may still worry that having a 13-year-old protagonist would dampen the punishment that can be doled out. That is absolutely not the case here. Her fury knows no limit, inflicting all manner of maiming and impaling Nazis using household implements such as keys, pencils, broken rulers, nailed 2x4s, and even a motorboat engine.
Becky boasts several stomach-churning kills thanks to strong practical effects and an overall commitment to the brutality that is a rarity in films with adolescent leads. As the film's antagonists are about as unlikeable as they come, there's a satisfying quality to the savageness of the film's kills that fuels her revenge streak.
At one point, a Nazi uses a steak knife to sever their dangling eyeball, proving early on that the film lacks a ceiling for its gore. For as graphic as the film can be, Becky's entire antagonist cast earn their punishment through their overall sinister and depraved performances. Leading the Nazi gang is Kevin James in his most transformative performance yet. Not unlike Adam Sandler's transformation in 2019's Uncut Gems, James undergoes a radical appearance shift, donning numerous Nazi tattoos, including a swastika that covers the entire back of his head, which drives his depravity home.
King of Queens, this is not.
Becky is by far James' most sinister performance to date, as his character has zero qualms about torturing and killing those who stand in his way. While he mostly shines as the central antagonist, his character is, at times, fairly heavy-handed. At one point, James delivers a monologue about why you don't mix dog breeds, a not so subtle metaphor for Jeff and Kayla's interracial relationship. And then, there's the XXL swastika head tattoo.
These overbearing moments aside, his overall performance stands as another impressive example of comedic actors transcending genres and defying audience expectations for their acting potential.
Becky's strong performances are guided by the equally impressive direction of Cary Murnion, Jonathan Milott, and cinematographer Greta Zozula. Juxtaposing the calm wilderness setting with the bloody chaos that ensues makes for a beautiful blending of atmospheres. Sharp camerawork never allows the film's scope or setting to lose its intimacy, capturing the tension as the best home invasion thrillers do.
One scene between Wilson and James has them talking over walkie talkies at opposite ends of the woods. A simple scene, made memorable by bleeding the shots of them talking together so that it appears as if they are standing face to face. Brief scenes such as this are trickled throughout the film, giving it far more artistic craftsmanship than is commonplace within the sub-genre.
Becky makes for one hell of a bloody backwoods piece of catharsis. The dichotomy between the film's adolescent protagonist and transformative antagonist is a melting pot of raw talent and brutality. While it may take its time in boiling, its eventual burn is a gory, satisfying one.
Becky slashers into Drive-ins, theaters, digital and VOD on June 5th from Quiver Distribution.
By Jay Krieger
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