The Wrath of Becky, 2023
Directed by Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote.
Starring Lulu Wilson, Seann William Scott, Denise Burse, Courtney Gains, Matt Angel, Michael Sirow, Aaron Dalla Villa, and John D. Hickman.
Two years after she escaped a violent attack on her family, 16-year-old Becky attempts to rebuild her life in the care of an older woman – a kindred spirit named Elena. However, when a violent group known as the Noble Men break into their home, attacks them, and takes their beloved dog, Becky must return to her old ways to protect herself and her loved ones.
The Wrath of Becky is being marketed as the sequel to the 2020 surprise box office hit Becky, which is a somewhat confounding statement considering even during a year with as few theatrical releases as that one had due to the world being shut down, I’m not sure what qualifies as a financial smash, and I still had to strain my mind to remember watching and reviewing it. “Wait, the sequel to that movie where a teenage girl was fending for her life against neo-Nazis? And wasn’t one of them played by Kevin James?”
I don’t bring up this anecdote as a means of trashing Becky, because while I ultimately didn’t like that movie, it did have solid ideas working in its favor with room for improvement, specifically in striking a sillier, more nonsensical tone. Lulu Wilson also impressed in the role of the violently resourceful 14-year-old (now 16 years old here), while Kevin James, cast extremely against type, practically made for a compelling case to watch on its own, especially since he was imposing and intimidating playing up his size. Regardless of how well the film performed compared to its low budget, this is still a niche release from Quiver Distribution for a sequel, oddly with no number assigned to its title, so it doesn’t hurt to provide newcomers context.
It would appear directors Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote (taking the reins from Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion, based on characters created by Ruckus Skye, Lane Skye, and Nick Morris) feel similarly since they (also conceiving the story and writing the script by themselves) have noticeably upped the punk rock aesthetic (expressed through drawings displayed over the opening credits sequence), added cartoonish and comical levels of gore (an early fantasy scene of Becky murdering a creepy, rude diner patron), and taken some influence from other recent ultraviolent successes in the action genre such as John Wick with a dog that serves as her best friend and a fierce fighting partner.
They are also aware of what worked the first time; Lulu Wilson fighting off neo-Nazis shockingly led by a family-friendly American comedian primarily known for a successful sitcom. For this new domestic terrorist group, there is an extra distinction in that they are also called MRA women haters (and God knows what else) that have ended up in Becky’s off-the-grid home while planning a heinous act against a woman senator during an upcoming rally. This time, the nasty bunch is led by Seann William Scott, who is fittingly detestable and often scary, even if I’m not sure he needs a scene that goes on for almost 10 minutes explaining how he’s not afraid to murder someone on his side if they botch something. Nonetheless, the misogynistic angle adds another personal layer to the ensuing bloodshed from crossing paths with Becky.
As for Becky, she evades the foster care system and, under the guise of being 18, lives with a lovely older woman with sage-like wisdom, played by Denise Burse. They chat about life and their traumatic pasts and play a sweet game daily where they mention three things they are living for. Unsurprisingly, at the diner she is currently employed at, Becky has a run-in with some underlings involved in this nefarious scheming, hurling misogynistic obscenities her way. She intentionally spills scalding hot coffee on one of them, leading to a dark retaliation and one instance of misguided gratuitous violence.
Admittedly, The Wrath of Becky has a slow start (even for a movie that is only 80 minutes), with scenes and dialogue exchanges that often go on twice as long as necessary. The upside is that Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote know that the minions should provide comedic relief and that the movie should be fun, above all else, with cleverly painful injuries and kills once the revenge starts (there’s a uniquely terrific one involving an arrow).
There’s a moment where one of these misogynistic neo-Nazis is pleading for his life, assuring that he doesn’t really hate women and that he has a son. When asked the son’s name, a brilliantly hilarious response demonstrates that these filmmakers are entirely clued into what these movies should be. The Wrath of Becky stays ridiculously entertaining, ending on a ludicrous high note and a tease for another entry rightfully going in an even further outrageous direction.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com