Review: Becky

Directed by Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion, written by Nick Morris, Ruckus Skye and Lane Skye, a teenager’s weekend at a lake house with her father takes a turn for the worse when a group of convicts wreaks havoc on their lives. Starring: Lulu Wilson, Kevin James, Joel McHale, Robert Maillet, Amanda Brugel, Isaiah Rockcliffe, Ryan McDonald, James McDougall and Leslie Adlam.

How could anyone resist a film that stars the lovable Kevin James as a neo-nazi? The initial idea of it almost sounds as outlandish as Parks and Recreation’s fake future where he plays Bourne but it works without question. James’ performance is dark, aggressive, violent, threatening and slightly disturbing, it may take a while to see him as the comedy goofball persona he created again after you watch this. It will go down as a career highlight for James, finally branching out and proving that he’s capable of much more and hopefully he’ll continue to take roles like this in the future. Another surprising performance for the film is Lulu Wilson’s titular Becky, in how well she matches up to the escaped convicts threatening her family. Her story starts out with the typical loss-driven rebellion and anger but her self-defence tactics quickly bring out a much darker side to her, she is unsettlingly prepared to take violent action. Wilson’s performance is much more convincing once that darkness is let out, she becomes cold and calculated, opening up a side to her that should probably have been left in hibernation and it’s an impressive portrayal to tackle such a complex character at her age.

Their performances are well supported by Maillet, Brugel, Rockcliffe, McDonald and McDougall but the one disappointing element is the usually dependable McHale; he simply doesn’t feel sincere enough to pull off this role. You can see his attempts at generosity and caring but they don’t work, he’s simply too cheesy to bring an authentic edge to it and makes his character feel like a bit of a throwaway rather than an integral part of the story.

One of the things you can’t possibly ignore with this film is the violence, it starts out fairly middle of the road in terms of blood and gore but then once that switch flips there’s no turning back and the carnage is let loose. It’s a bit of a jarring change and it feels like they’re occasionally going slightly too far or shots are lingering more than they need to, had they introduced it as soon as the violence begins it would have been more of a shocking impact rather than jarring. Although, that said, a lot of it does still feel like a good old-fashioned blow of revenge and Becky working out her frustrations with life on those attacking her family, it’s punchy and raw. The writing does well to support that blunt style, it doesn’t feel as though the violence is coming through unnecessarily, it’s paced well to spread it throughout the film. You could argue that the way Becky is written leads her to make choices which might knock back your sympathy for her, almost relishing in the chance to commit violent acts but similarly it might make you love her all the more.

The direction works extremely well with the editing to provide a visual that still feels fresh, it’s a type of story that’s been done repeatedly but the style that they create gives it a different edge. Despite all that violence, the style also doesn’t make it feel particularly dark, it’s relatively light, bringing events through in an energetic and lively way. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and embraces the youthful energy that Becky’s character brings to the story.

Becky takes the classic home invasion story, gives it a modern update and doesn’t skimp on the violence and retribution. James and Wilson give surprising performances and go head to head in a satisfying battle of the wills and weapons. The direction is well done to capture that younger, newer energy to a tried and tested story, with sharp, distinctive editing pushing it further. There are a number of shots where they lean a bit too much on the violence and could have pulled back with the same effect, also the violence against animals may likely rub a lot of people the wrong way. It isn’t without its flaws and you’re left with a few unanswered questions but it has a very satisfying blend of action and horror, so if you’re looking for something fun and you’re not squeamish then it’s really worth watching.

Verdict: ✯✯✯½

Out now on Digital!

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