Directed by Jonathan Milott & Cary Murnion.
Starring Lulu Wilson, Kevin James, Joel McHale, Amanda Brugel, Isaiah Rockcliffe, Robert Maillet.
A troubled teenager turns the tables on a gang of criminals who break into her home.
Becky (Lulu Wilson – Annabelle: Creation) is a 13-year-old girl with a few personal issues going on. Having lost her mother to illness she is clinging onto her mother’s memory as best she can but her father Jeff (Joel McHale – Deliver Us From Evil) is trying to move on with his life. So introducing his new fiancé to his troubled teenage daughter when she is clearly having problems dealing with loss is probably not the best move on his part but it makes for a decent character setup as Becky, Jeff, Jeff’s fiancé Kayla (Amanda Brugel – The Handmade’s Tale) and her young son Ty (Isaiah Rockcliffe) are thrown into this awkward situation at Jeff’s isolated holiday home.
And then Paul Blart: Mall Cop turns up to ruin what was already a disastrous day. Yes, Kevin James goes completely against type as Dominick, an escaped neo-Nazi convict with a swastika tattooed on the back of his head just for added menace, and turns up with his mates to look for the McGuffin of a key that was hidden inside the property. Fortunately – or possibly not – for Becky she had a temper tantrum and stormed off before Dominick arrived so she is on the outside as the ruthless criminal holds her family hostage inside, thus proving how resourceful teenagers can be when left to their own devices.
So yes, Becky is a home invasion movie where the biggest draw is seeing Kevin James play an absolute scumbag, and to be fair it is a performance worth seeing as he does it remarkably well, keeping his line deliveries calm and measured for the most part and only flipping out a few times to remind you that Dominick, for all of his persuasive speaking techniques, is actually a very bad man, as his grotesque Nazi tattoos signify. With Kayla and Ty being darker skinned this masterful grasp of visual film language helps in setting up the story and the characters very quickly and we know pretty much from the off where the movie is going to go.
And that is also part of the problem with Becky as there is very little here that you could call surprising, making it a very straightforward home invasion thriller. Nothing wrong with that as the casting is very good, the performances (except for one) being very strong and believable, and the gory action is shot extremely well but there are moments – and they are just moments – where the tension is threatened by some slightly odd choices. One brutal scene in particular that should have been a shocking moment to show how resilient and determined one particular character is ends up veering into slapstick just for a couple of seconds, undermining that particular character’s role just enough to inform a couple of similar scenes later on. Basically, is this a serious drama about a family threatened with violence or an exploitation B-movie homage? You never really get a clear answer.
But despite these bizarre tonal inconsistencies there is enough going on in Becky to keep you engaged as a gang of fully grown men are handed their arses back to them by a 13-year-old girl, including WWE star Robert Maillet who, at 6’ 10”, adds a larger physical threat than Kevin James and his confrontations with Becky make for some uncomfortable viewing. Lulu Wilson has been touted as ‘one to watch’ for a few years now and Becky certainly won’t do her any harm as a future genre star. However, if she decides to go all Disney on us she may have some explaining to do…
Overall, Becky is an enjoyable home invasion thriller that threatens to break into greatness but never quite goes that extra mile to do so. Lulu Wilson and Kevin James are the obvious standouts and, quite frankly, if they were given their own franchise as a Laurie Strode/Michael Myers-type double act then that probably wouldn’t be a bad thing; at the very least let’s see Kevin James doing more roles like this. All the other elements are solid enough to make the film worth watching, although Joel McHale is the weak link when it comes to the performances, but his casting seemed a bit odd to start with. Nevertheless, in a year that has given us more than few home invasion-style horrors – let’s be honest, it is because they are fairly cheap to make – Becky remains one of the more entertaining ones, despite the knowledge that a few tweaks here and there would have made it more of a standout.
And not once was Home Alone mentioned…
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★