Home invasion thriller meets revenge horror, in this bloody action film from Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion. One for those who have a strong stomach, but possibly not daughters.
The opening few minutes of Becky are brilliant: we watch a father and daughter heading out for a bonding weekend in the country, cut with scenes of a group of convicts escaping from a prison truck. At one early point in the film, the family car and the truck are shown alternately, each heading towards a lush green forest, and the audience just knows the two are destined to meet.
By the time they do meet, Becky (Lulu Wilson, Ouija: Origin of Evil, Sharp Objects) has stormed off when her father (Joel McHale, Community) surprises her with his new girlfriend and her young son joining them on their break. Consequently, when the gang turns up, Becky herself is out in the woods with one of the dogs, becoming an unknown quantity for the outsiders. They don’t know she’s a resourceful thirteen-year-old, they don’t know she’s already wound up, and no-one would have guessed how ready she is to explode.
What looks like a home invasion story swiftly becomes a cat-and-mouse hunt and a like-she-means-it revenge film. And that’s what it’s all about: this isn’t a film with deep and complex characters, but goodies versus baddies. The goodies are largely represented by one single adolescent, and the baddies are two-dimensional thugs™. The gang is made up of the intelligent, white supremacist leader (Kevin James, Paul Blart: Mall Cop), the dim henchman (Ryan McDonald, Fringe), the overweight henchman (James McDougall, ABCs Of Death 2), and the giant henchman (Robert Maillet, The Strain). Unfortunately for the gang, they go after Becky one at a time; but she’s in her territory, and in the height of all her fury, and this film is named Becky for a reason.
Many have likened Becky to Home Alone, in that it’s about a single kid fighting back against intruders. Yeah, but no: Becky is no comedy, and Home Alone was no R/18 certificate. This film is fast-paced, action (not humor) oriented, and at no point do you think everything’s going to turn out OK. There is horror in the violence, and as IMDB puts it, the violence is “severe”: young Becky has the wrath of a volcano. The 18 certificate is definitely justified: sure, there is no sex or nudity, but the carnage! There are no elaborate traps, mind you, but simple assaults taken to the extreme, with both the violence itself and the results shown explicitly.
And yes, the character of Becky is thirteen. I have often seen the “male gaze” used to describe the treatment of female characters. In Becky, perhaps we see the adult male (or father’s) gaze: Becky demonstrates that men rarely know how to relate to an adolescent girl, can never predict their reactions, and are painfully aware of underestimating them. Hard Candy has left a mark. Perhaps this is why we don’t often see young girls in protagonist roles
That said, Becky is exciting, fun, tense, and full of surprises. Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion have clearly formed a strong partnership and can deliver action as well as the comedy we saw a couple of years ago in Cooties. Both were bloody and centered on kids, but different enough to make us wonder what might be next. And young Lulu Wilson will surely go far. Like other members of the cast, this is a real change for her previously serious or fragile roles; it’s great to see variety at such an early stage in one’s career.
Alix has been writing for Ready Steady Cut since November 2017. They cover a wide variety, including genre festivals, and especially appreciates wit and representation on screen.