If you’re a parent of a middle school girl, or even a teacher of one, you know that generally speaking they can be moody, unpredictable, and often difficult. They can also be a handful.
Which is exactly what some dangerous escaped convicts find out when they commandeer a summer cabin, torture the occupants for information, and find one very angry thirteen year-old girl standing in their way in the new thriller BECKY (2020), a film which reveals what a lot of us already know: even hardened murderous criminals are no match for a spited thirteen year-old!
BECKY opens with parallel stories unfolding at the same time. We see Becky (Lulu Wilson) picked up from school by her dad Jeff (Joel McHale) at the same time we witness Dominick (Kevin James) escape from prison. Becky has been having a very difficult year, as her mother has passed away, and she is not handling it well. To make matters worse, Jeff has brought her to a cabin which holds special memories for her regarding her mom, and he has also invited his new girlfriend Kayla (Amanda Brugel) and her young son Ty (Isaiah Rockcliffe) to spend the weekend with them. And if that’s not enough, Jeff informs Becky that he plans to marry Kayla.
Ouch! Way to alienate your teenage daughter, Dad!
Meanwhile, Dominick and his fellow escaped convicts, including the giant Apex (Robert Maillet) make their way to the cabin— no, not to find refuge from the police, but because for some reason which the movie never makes clear— Dominick had hidden a key there, a key to something he values so much he’s willing to kill for it. Just what that key is for is anyone’s guess because the movie never tells us! Some films can get away with leaving out vital information in a plot, while others cannot. BECKY falls into the latter category.
Anyway, when Dominick and his buddies arrive at the cabin, Becky is off in her private clubhouse in the woods pouting, so when Dominick discovers that the key is gone, and he starts torturing folks to get them to tell him where it is, she’s saved from this ordeal. And when she returns to see her father tortured, it doesn’t sit well with her. Plus, as fate would have it, she does have the key that Dominick is looking for, and once Dominick learns this, he sends his crew into the woods to capture Becky and get it back.
Easy-peasy. Right? Wrong!
Becky turns out to be quite the handful. And then some!
There were parts about BECKY that I liked, and there were also a lot of parts that I didn’t like. The film definitely enters HOME ALONE territory in its latter half, with young Becky taking on brutal thugs she has no business beating up on, but with a mix of ingenuity and gumption, she does just that. It also helps her cause that these crooks aren’t the sharpest knives in the drawer. They’re actually kind of dumb, which is good for Becky, but bad for the movie. If these guys were really that deadly, Becky most likely wouldn’t have stood a chance. So as much as I enjoyed watching young Becky kick the living stuffing out of these thugs, it really strained credibility that she did so.
With big bright opening credits, the initial feel of this one was that it was going to be campy. It’s not. It may have been better had it gone the route of high camp. As it stands, it goes down another route entirely, that of a heavy R-rated horror movie with some really gory scenes. The good news is these scenes work. One scene in particular where Becky attacks Dominick by stabbing him in the eye is jolting and effective. Even better, and this is one of the few scenes which leaned toward campiness, when Dominick is writhing in pain, his eye dangling from his face, he begs one of his associates to cut it off, and the guy in a panic grabs a child’s safety scissors and tries using that, which only makes the situation worse.
The violence in BECKY is over the top and bloody. I have no problem with this. The problem I had is as the film goes along, it becomes less and less believable that Becky could be this successful.
One of the best parts about BECKY is Lulu Wilson’s performance in the lead role as Becky. Wilson has had plenty of practice. Wilson is only 15 years old, and yet she already has a solid resume of horror movie/TV shows appearances, as she has starred in the TV series THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE (2018-20), and the horror movies ANNABELLE: CREATION (2017), OUIJA: ORIGIN OF EVIL (2016), and DELIVER US FROM EVIL (2014). She gets to do a lot more here as Becky than in her previous films, as she turns the character into a force to be reckoned with, and when she utters the line “But I want to hurt you. I want to hurt you real bad!” it resonates.
Funny man Kevin James makes his dramatic debut here as Dominick, the killer convict with a swastika tatoo on the back of his head who’s obsessed with finding that all important key which will open— wait. That’s right. We don’t know what it opens. But whatever it is, Dominick sure is obssessed about it. I half expected him to utter, “My precious!” upon seeing it!
I’m not a Kevin James fan. It’s not an exaggeration to say that I haven’t enjoyed one single comedy I’ve seen him star in. He’s actually very good here as Dominick in BECKY. The only problem is, like the rest of the story, it just doesn’t seem believable that Becky would walk all over him the way she does. He proves to be a very ineffective villain.
The rest of the cast is fine. Retired wrestler Robert Maillet was fun to watch as Apex, the super powerful enormous convict with a conscience, as harming children takes its toll on him. His presence also begged the question: why does Dominick need a key anyway? Whatever it opens Apex could probably bust into it himself with his bare hands!
BECKY was directed by Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion. They handle the violent scenes well, and do a nice job setting up the characters and the setting, and it all makes for a rather entertaining movie with the exception of its latter half which becomes less believable.
The same can be said of the screenplay by Nick Morris, Ruckus Skye, and Lane Skye. Compelling thriller at first, but simply not enough effort towards the end to keep it credible. The convicts shouldn’t have been that clueless, and Becky should have had a much more difficult time overcoming these guys.
As it stands, BECKY is a competent thriller that is not as fun as it could have been, as it only dabbles with campy humor, and it tends to lean towards graphic horror, and as such, it is definitely not for the squeamish.
It does successfully capture the persona of an angry thirteen year-old girl, however, and so it can be forgiven somewhat for eventually wading into the waters of a HOME ALONE movie.
I still think The Bad Seed (1958 version) did this the best it can be done…