The 400-Word Review: Becky
By Sean Collier
June 5, 2020
This description probably gives the wrong impression, but I can’t help but make it: the new thriller “Becky” is an angry, R-rated “Home Alone.”
A kid is separated from family members; bad guys show up; the kid fights the bad guys off with a series of improvised weapons. It’s “Home Alone.”
The main difference, I suppose, is that “Becky” treats the psychological trauma and stakes of the confrontation seriously, adding the sort of brutal violence and clear mental devastation that doesn’t necessarily play in a family feature.
Becky (Lulu Wilson) and her widower father Jeff (Joel McHale) decamp to the family’s lake house for a long weekend. It’s going to be a challenging couple of days for Dad; Becky still isn’t over her mother’s death, and he’s planning on using the trip to break the news that he’s marrying his new girlfriend, single mom Kayla (Amanda Brugel).
Such concerns are swiftly pushed aside when a quartet of white separatist fugitives turn up. The leader, Dominick (Kevin James), has stashed a vital MacGuffin in the home; now that he and his disciples have escaped prison, he’s come to collect. The grown-ups are easily subdued; Becky, who has been sulking in the woods, will not go quietly.
The primary headline associated with “Becky” was buried in the previous paragraph: The big bad of this film is played by perennially cuddly comedian Kevin James. Seeing James, whose highest-intensity performance to date was probably “Paul Blart: Mall Cop,” emerge with a swastika tattooed on his head is certainly jarring. This is not, however, an act of stunt casting; take away the affable aspects of James’ personality, and he can easily sell himself as a ruthless if charismatic terror. (Admittedly, a gnarly beard is doing some of the work.)
He’s not the star, though; that’s Wilson, who gets to unhinge in a way protagonists rarely do. Becky is so actively and acutely in turmoil that no amount of performative madness is too much for the young performer. She’s as close as a 14-year-old can get to a horror veteran — prior appearances include tamer frights including “Deliver Us From Evil” and “Annabelle: Creation” — and seems poised for a breakout role. “Becky” could be it.
It’s pure drive-in, midnight-movie fare, but “Becky” knows itself and executes well. There’s nothing necessarily new here, but almost everything works.
It is, admittedly, way less funny than “Home Alone.”
My Rating: 7/10
“Becky” is playing at select drive-in cinemas now. It is also available via digital rental services.