Released at the peak of the first wave of the pandemic, Becky took over from the aptly titled The Wretched as the US number one film, or at least the biggest thing released into makeshift drive-ins and the paltry few cinemas still open. The exposure might help gain a foothold in the public consciousness; a horror thriller with a strong female protagonist, it’s essentially a gritty, backwoods Die Hard in the wilderness, and should appeal to those with a stomach for bad things happening to bad people.
Of course, our heroes are good; Becky is played by Lulu Wilson, fortunate enough to have been in some decent sequels in the Oujia and Annabelle franchises, as well as Mike Flannagan’s Haunting of Hill House. She’s broken hearted by the death of her mother, and her father (Joel McHale) is pretty much dead to her too when he brings his new squeeze Kayla (Amanda Brugel) and his son to a remote cabin. Becky finds a key and a tin box while out sulking, and when neo-Nazi Dominik (Kevin James) and his gang turn up, the home invasion gives her the chance to extract a murderous, bloody revenge.
Like an R-rated Home Alone movie, Becky is a physical, practically-minded film, with nails, rulers, outboard-motors and other ordinary items re-purposed in a nasty way; directors Jonathan Millot and Cary Murnion do a good job of maintaining the suspense and keeping the stakes small but intense. Wrestler Robert Malillet also makes a big impression after many fifth-banana roles; he’s something of a man mountain, and the odds always seem against Becky’s unlikely comeback.
With nasty-ass killings and children involved, Becky will be too strong meat for some, and even if you can stay the course, it’s hard to love. But it is efficient, driven and proficient entertainment, and a class above most backwoods horror. If James and McHale are the draws, it’s Wilson who shoulders the load and manages the heavy lifting here; she’s clearly a star in the making, and Becky’s lashings of arterial blood provide a colourful backdrop for her graduation from child-actor to potential star. And what next for McHale? From Community to The Soup, he’s exuded a leading man quality with an innate mean-ness of spirit, and it’s about time he plugged himself into something which allows him to develop that persona. He doesn’t have enough to do here, but there’s still time for him; McHale just needs to carve out that opportunity for himself, rather than take more second-banana roles.
Becky hits UK cinemas from Sept 28th 2020.
Thanks to Vertigo Releasing for advance access to this title.