BECKY

Reviewed by GREG KING

Directors: Jonathan Milott, Cary Munion

Stars: Lulu Wilson, Kevin James, Joel McHale, Robert Maillet, Amanda Brugel, Ryan McDonald, James McDougall, Isaiah Rockcliffe.

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This violent and gory variation on the home invasion subgenre is something of a cross between Home Alone and Funny Games.

The titular Becky (played with plenty of spunk and attitude by Lulu Wilson, from Ouija: Origins Of Evil, etc) is a surly and troubled thirteen-year old who is still grieving over the recent death of her mother from cancer. She heads off for a weekend at a lake house with her father Jeff (Joel McHale, from Community, etc). She hopes to reconnect with Jeff, but is disappointed when he uses the occasion to introduce her to his new fiancé Kayla (Amanda Brugel, from The Handmaid’s Tale, etc) and her young son Ty (newcomer Isaiah Rockcliffe). In a fit of pique Becky runs off to hide in her own little hut in the woods.

Shortly after, four neo-Nazis, escaped convicts, enter the house looking for a mysterious key. The four violent thugs are led by the menacing Dominick (Kevin James, from tv sitcom The King Of Queens, etc) who begins to torture Jeff and Kayla to find the whereabouts of the key. Becky returns and transforms into a pint-sized adolescent Rambo to save her family. She improvises a number of nasty edged weapons and boobytraps to turn the tables on the four intruders.

Becky is the third feature film from the filmmaking pair of Jonathan Milott and Cary Munion, whose previous films like the cult favourite Cooties have pushed the boundaries of good taste. The pair bring a gritty grindhouse aesthetic and a darkly humorous tone to the material, and they don’t pull their punches. There is some inventive use of outboard motors and ride-on lawnmowers to despatch a couple of the villains, and there is a grisly sequence involving a severed eyeball that will have many wincing in horror or disgust. The script was written by Nick Morris (his first feature script) and Ruckus and Lane Skye (The Devil To Pay, etc). The hidden key serves as the film’s McGuffin.

Becky is a stylish and well-crafted if somewhat nasty and claustrophobic thriller. In the film’s clever opening sequence, editor Alan Canant (Hellion, etc) juxtaposes those scenes that show Becky and her father heading off to the cabin in the woods with the more violent scenes of Dominick and his henchman executing a brutal escape from a high security prison. There is a nicely ominous score from Nima Fakhrara that underscores the palpable tension. Cinematographer Greta Zozula uses handheld cameras at times to take us into the action from Becky’s perspective.

Wilson is no stranger to the horror genre, and she handles the physical demands of her role here well. The biggest surprise here though is the casting of James, who is better known for his goofy, affable presence in lightweight comedies; he seems to relish this change of pace and is quite menacing and intimidating as Dominick. Former WWE wrestler Robert Maillet also has an intimidating presence as Apex, Dominick’s gigantic right hand man, and his confrontations with the more diminutive Becky crackle with tension.

Becky may be a little formulaic and predictable, but it is still an entertaining diversion in this bleak period of lockdown that has closed cinemas for the duration of the global pandemic.

★★★

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