Lulu Wilson as Becky
Kevin James as Dominick
Joel McHale as Jeff
Amanda Brugel as Kayla
Robert Maillet as Apex
Ryan McDonald as Cole
Directed by Jonathan Milott & Cary Murnion
Written by Nick Morris, Ruckus Skye & Lane Skye
As kids we all imagine being the hero for our family under various circumstances, be it by winning the lottery and buying a rich mansion for everyone or saving them from a gang of thieves or criminals, part of the latter stems from John Hughes and Chris Columbus’ iconic 1990 Christmas comedy Home Alone. Various genres over the years have sought to offer new twists on this formula and the latest effort, Becky, proves to be a thrilling and darkly comedic affair, even if not a wholly groundbreaking take on it.
Spunky and rebellious, Becky (Lulu Wilson) is brought to a weekend getaway lake house by her father Jeff (Joel McHale) in an effort to try to reconnect after a recent death in the family. The trip immediately takes a turn for the worse when a group of convicts on the run, led by the merciless Dominick (Kevin James), suddenly invade the lake house, forcing the titular heroine to step up and save those around her.
Co-directors Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion are no strangers to the horror or comedy genres, having made their feature debut in 2015 with the outrageously fun zombie comedy Cooties with an ensemble led by Elijah Wood and after occasionally fumbling on their balance of tones in said film, the duo mostly stick the landing with Becky, whether it be thanks to Nick Morris and Lane and Ruckus Skye’s script or just the two having finally figured out how to properly meld the two.
The film’s setup introducing audiences to the titular heroine and her soon-to-be antagonist may not indicate wholly original character backstories, but the dual nature of jumping back and forth between each character feels like a seamless and captivating style choice to throw viewers into this world and their lives. A teenage girl rebelling while struggling with a familial loss is nothing new, nor is it handled in the most unique of ways in the film, nor is a maniacal skinhead on the run from the authorities after breaking out of jail, but the intersection of their worlds does lead to one of the better elements of its film: its character development.
Though James’ Dominick remains unwavering on his journey for a mysterious hidden item, other members of his gang, as well as the titular protagonist herself, are offered the chance to grow into more complex and relatable characters than their initial cardboard cutout-levels of appearances to ones in which we begin to wonder whether we should hate them or whether we should sympathize with them for having to “work” under such a detestable maniac.
The film’s tone does feel like a bizarre jumble in the start, initially taking its time to driving its lead characters to their intersecting stories and speeding things up once they do, only to suddenly slow it down and once again take its time in getting to the nitty gritty of its gory fun of Becky getting to kill some bad guys. A film ensuring there’s enough time to connect audiences to its characters prior to the action is certainly important, but when a film is set in a singular location and jumpstarts the action anytime after the 30-minute mark with only a 90-minute runtime, it should not step back or continue taking its time in getting to the primary action of its plot.
Where the film’s pacing falters, the rest of it more than makes up for it with the action it does deliver, which is both stylishly directed by Milott and Murnion and is plenty thrilling for fans looking for a pulse-pounding venture. Some questionable minor usage of CGI aside, the practical effects are plenty gruesome for genre enthusiasts while still not exceeding limits to which a general audience member would find themselves turned off as things escalate.
In addition to the exciting action, the film especially benefits from career-best performances from Lulu Wilson and Kevin James in their lead roles. Much like the directors, Wilson is no stranger to the horror genre, having found her breakout roles in Scott Derrickson’s Deliver Us From Evil, David F. Sandberg’s Annabelle: Creation and Mike Flanagan’s Ouija: Origin of Evil and The Haunting of Hill House, but this film offers her a new, more mature kind of role for her in which she truly shines. Rather than take on the child-in-distress role of career’s past, Wilson steps up and proves to be a plenty capable lead taking down enemies left and right. In addition to her, James breaks bad in a similar fashion to frequent collaborator Adam Sandler in Uncut Gems and fellow sitcom vet Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad, and though it may not be an award-worthy turn like the two, he still proves to be an intimidating, haunting and plenty capable dramatic actor.
Overall, the pacing may be a bit off in moments for the horror-comedy-thriller and some of its characters don’t feel very unique, Becky still proves to be a gory, thrilling and fun exercise in its respective genres that is supported by strong performances from Wilson and James.