Teenager Becky is having quite the time. She’s still trying to come to terms with the death of her mum, she’s getting bullied at school and dad Jeff has come up with the great idea of a weekend away at a cabin with his girlfriend Kayla and her son Ty. However, any irritation and embarrassment Becky is expecting to feel in this situation is soon going to pale into insignificance when an unwelcome visitor comes calling.
That visitor is neo-Nazi Dominick, who has recently escaped from prison with a group of his followers. They’re looking for something that’s supposedly been left in the vicinity of the cabin and they’ll stop at nothing to get it. Hardened criminals versus timid teenager – no contest, right? Wrong. Oh, so very wrong.
“Oh, so very wrong” may be the reaction of some viewers to Becky given the set-up and your level of enjoyable may depend entirely on how you feel about seeing a young girl attack much older blokes in a variety of gory and violent ways. If you like your fictional teenagers helping the community by volunteering at old folks’ homes and not by taking bloody revenge on white supremacists, you may want to pick another movie.
As an introduction, we’re shown two fights, the action cutting between one in a school hall and one in a prison yard, suggesting the two environments are not as far apart as they may seem initially. They’re both harsh worlds and Becky is struggling to cope with hers but, faced with a threat to those she loves, she grows up quickly and proves more than a match for the physically stronger convicts because she’s far smarter than she’s given credit for.
Lulu Wilson is no stranger to the genre, having previously appeared in Deliver Us From Evil, Annabelle: Creation, Ouija: Origin Of Evil and in superior series The Haunting Of Hill House. Here, she’s given the opportunity to take charge, transforming from sullen, awkward, resentful schoolkid to focused, relentless killing machine.
This has more than a little potential to be absolutely ridiculous but it works a treat. Becky’s journey is both crowd-pleasingly fantastical and oddly sobering, Wilson being especially convincing, scarily so, in the grimy murder sequences. The frequent smirks which put exclamation points on her rising kill count are darkly amusing and deeply unnerving at the same time.
The proceedings are bolstered further by a couple of familiar names, both who are better known for their comedy contributions. Joel McHale, late of Community, essays a sympathetic everyman figure as Becky’s caring, frequently exasperated father and, in his first dramatic role, Kevin James shines as the bald, beefed-up Dominick.
Yes. Kevin James. Paul Blart: Mall Cop. That Kevin James. Before you even think of starting to snigger at that piece of casting, let me stop you right there by telling you that he’s rather good as the bad guy. He does receive a hideous, though not life-threatening, injury early on in the proceedings, in a protracted sequence which is both gorge-risingly horrible and darkly amusing but that’s more or less all of the laughs you’re going to get from his character.
James doesn’t play the main menace as a snarling, spittle-spraying lunatic. He’s measured, even mild-mannered on the surface, but there’s no doubting the aggression underneath, which surfaces in a couple of scenes that may have even some horror fans wincing. If this is the standard of his dramatic performances, I’d be happy to see him playing against type more often. He’s also clearly conscious of not overshadowing the lead, which is a nice touch.
Considering most of the violence is meted out by someone who isn’t even old enough to see the movie she’s in without supervision, the level of gore is surprisingly high, including a frenzied, prolonged stabbing and a boat-related demise that nods to a certain, notorious Meir Zarchi revenge pic. This doesn’t shy away from showing Becky getting her hands bloody.
The lack of backstory for most of the protagonists may make it a little difficult to truly relate to their plight but the main intent of Becky – both the film and the character – is to deliver the brutal goods, which is does with savage aplomb. There’s a passing attempt to give Dominick a little depth and it’s interesting to see his growing fascination with the pint-sized exterminator who’s making a mess of his crew.
This leads to a somewhat predictable appeal to his nemesis based on how the two of them aren’t so different but there’s no particular wish to explore this much further than using it as a pause for the viewer to catch their breath before the next grisly set-piece. Any subtext here is generally going to take a back seat to gruesome deaths in glorious colour and, in this case, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
If you think Macauley Culkin didn’t go far enough in dealing with those burglars in Home Alone, Becky is going to be right up your street. This is a revenge thriller which gets on with the revenge portion of the plot as soon as it possibly can, giving the bad guys just enough individuality to identify them but nowhere near enough to make you think twice about them being chalked off in startlingly violent ways.
With fine work from Wilson and James plus a refreshingly unsympathetic approach to its more likeable characters and an unwillingness to cut away even when the action’s at its most down and dirty, what Becky may lack in depth is made up for – and then some – by its keen grasp of the fundamentals. It’s an exciting, bloody blast which revels in its puritan-baiting plot.