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Thursday, June 4, 2020

[Review] ‘Becky’ Transforms Teen Rage into Blood-Drenched Action Thriller

Teens tend to feature prominently in horror for a reason. Puberty, onset hormonal shifts, and growing pains -physically and emotionally- make for fertile ground from which to build the terror. If you happen to be an adolescent female, well, as other teen-centric horror films have aptly demonstrated, hell is a teenage girl. Becky embodies that concept while giving it a new twist. For the eponymous 13-year-old, teen angst gets transformed into a no holds barred action thriller that unleashes visceral carnage.

Becky Hooper (Lulu Wilson) has shut down emotionally following the passing of her mother. Through the prism of adolescence, her grief has manifested in detachment and full-blown rage. It keeps her father, Jeff (Joel McHale), at arm’s length, though he refuses to give up on her. A well-intentioned weekend getaway to the remote family lake house goes awry almost immediately when Jeff’s girlfriend Kayla (Amanda Brugel) shows up, with her young son in tow, to help break the news of her engagement to Jeff. That’s before the arrival of a group of violent escaped convicts, led by white supremacist Dominick (Kevin James). In Becky, hell hath no fury like a pissed off teen. She channels her rage into lethal violence that will scare even hardened criminals.

On paper, the very setup of a 13-year-old rampaging against disturbed, homicidal convicts makes for a delicate balance that threatens to topple into silly Home Alone-style comedy at any point. After all, a young girl barely entering adolescence should be no match for vicious neo-Nazis that the film takes great care to ensure the viewer knows just how dangerous they are before the central conflict starts. Two key components make Becky successful in selling the serious tone of this thriller; the fully committed performance by Wilson and the shocking, gore-filled violence.

At her young age, Wilson has already racked up a long list of horror bonafides, from the creepy kid in Ouija: Origin of Evil to her most recent turn as young Shirley in Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House. With Becky, Wilson taps into primal ferocity that sustains itself at a constant pace. That she’s surrounded by more experienced players and still outshines them all says a lot about her talent and star potential. Opposite her is James, playing against type as the central antagonist. Dominick is the leader of his small group that descends upon the lake house in search of a specific item, and James opts to infuse his character with controlled, quiet menace. He’s not always efficient in pulling that off, though, and sometimes Dominick seems less dangerous and more milquetoast.

There’s not much depth to Becky. It’s a straightforward, paper-thin story that doesn’t bother to flesh out any enriching details. Through small flashbacks, we’re given glimpses of a happier Becky before her sickly mother’s passing, but the film doesn’t bother to bridge that Becky with the present-day, vindictive one. In other words, Wilson sells the hell out of her character, but it doesn’t always make sense for her to harbor such ferocious wrath so consistently. Some dialogue sets up the loyalties between Dominick and his much more monstrous sized partner in crime, Apex (Robert Maillet), but their performances don’t make it believable. Their motivation behind their invasion is nonsensical. The opening hook is set in the middle of Becky’s blood-soaked battle before cutting away and jumping back in time, robbing the narrative of tension, too. There could be subtext gleaned from Becky, in terms of how it’s up to our youth to take down evildoers, or if atonement for past heinous crimes is achievable, but the film never expands on these ideas in any meaningful way.

Where the film shines most, of course, is the fantastic action sequences and gore. Directors Jonathan Millot and Cary Murnion (Cooties) deliver a crisp action thriller that goes heavy on the action and impressive carnage. Emphasis on the carnage. Becky isn’t afraid to go for the jugular, and an instance of drawn-out eye trauma is one for the ages. It’s the gore that offers the surprises in a fairly by-the-numbers plot. That gore, in conjunction with Wilson’s fully committed performance, makes Becky a lean, mean viewing experience. Once the blood dries and the adrenaline wears off, though, there’s nothing else to it to make it memorable in the long term.

Becky releases on digital, drive-in, and on-demand on June 5, 2020.



source https://bloody-disgusting.com/reviews/3618765/review-becky-transforms-teen-rage-blood-drenched-action-thriller/

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