In BECKY, a new film available to rent on VOD and watch at select drive-in theaters beginning today, Lulu Wilson plays a thirteen-year-old girl who violently slaughters her way through a gang of neo-Nazis that have crashed her family vacation. And now, more than ever, couldn't we all enjoy a movie in which a handful of white supremacists have their asses handed to them by a very angry, very crafty teenage girl?
BECKY is the third feature film from directors Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion. The filmmaking duo previously directed the horror-comedy COOTIES, in which Elijah Wood led a gang of teachers against a swarm of child zombies, and the action film BUSHWICK, which saw a Texas militia invade New York City. Their latest film, while just as visually stylish as their previous two movies, would probably not be confused with a comedy by most people, although the film’s ultra-violence does contain a certain level of macabre glee. Instead, the film has loftier goals - exploring the infectious nature of violence.
Becky’s mother passed away from cancer recently and her father, played by Joel McHale, is already engaged to marry a new woman. The girl mopes in the back of her classroom, shoplifts at convenience stores, and willfully ignores her father’s attempts to reconnect. Becky’s already simmering anger at being a powerless teenage girl begins to take root and grow as she plots the destruction of the men who have attacked her family. Before the night is through, Becky will have become Charles Bronson in high tops, an ember of fury burning behind her eyes as she slashes her way through the ill-prepared criminals who came calling.
Wilson has made a name for herself by playing haunted children in supernaturally-tinged horror films and television shows such as OUIJA: ORIGIN OF EVIL, ANNABELLE: CREATION and THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE. In BECKY, Willson is also haunted, but by her loss not ghosts. Becky mourns her mother’s death and works through some emotional issues via crafting booby traps to kill Nazis. While glowering behind a fox-shaped knit hat as she reins death down upon a quartet of Nazis, there’s genuine pathos in Becky’s expression as she taunts the criminals and goes out of her way to exact vengeance on the racists.
The film’s Nazis are looking for a MacGuffin that - in the truest definition of the trope - is never defined beyond a key that will apparently help them win the impending race war they have been preparing for. Will it unlock Nazi gold? Does it have magical properties? Who knows? Who cares? The film isn’t concerned with why the Nazis have broken out of prison and dropped by unannounced at Becky’s family lakehouse to find the key that was buried in the basement - it’s focused on the trail of dead victims and animals the Nazis leave in their wake. These are bad people and they must be stopped. Such an intimidating gang deserves a truly intimidating leader. Patrick Stewart was busy so they got Kevin James.
In all seriousness, the King of Queens sheds any silliness you might expect based on the majority of James’ previous body of work to play a truly menacing heavy. James waxes poetic about his followers’ dedication to him and goes off on long rants about pure blood and, in return, is gifted one of the best eye trauma scenes since HOSTEL.
There’s a great scene where James’ Nazi scumbag and McHale’s devoted, if impotent, dad compare and contrast what it means to be a father. James’ whole schtick is demanding his gang (who he refers to as his children) prove their love for him while McHale is dedicated to proving his love to his daughter. Explorations of the meaning of fatherhood in a Nazi killing movie! Who woulda thunk?
Before production began, Simon Pegg had originally been cast in the role of the film’s heavy but had to drop out due to a scheduling conflict. While James is perfectly capable of using his bulk to be menacing, one has to wonder if Pegg might have been more willing to lean into, well, the Naziness of being a Nazi. James, who presumably would still like to make PG-13 rated Adam Sandler vacation comedy movies again down the road, is relatively subdued as a Nazi murderer. He orders the death of a few victims and even tries his own hand at a murder or two but - despite the fact that McHale’s new fiance is a black woman - never leans too far into the racist tendencies of being a Nazi. Perhaps James realizes optics is everything and the last thing he wanted was to become a racist meme removed from the context of the film. James and his crew are Nazis in name only. Because of the mysterious nature of the MacGuffin, the film could have chosen to save money on the fake swastika tattoo that was printed on the back of James’ bald head and just made James a generic villain instead of a neo-Nazi.
But here I am looking a gift “Nazis are killed by a teenage girl” movie in the mouth. Who are we to turn down a chance to watch white supremacists have their faces smashed in and be dispatched in wonderfully blood-soaked methods by a psychopathic child?
When it comes down to it, BECKY is all about watching a ton of trauma be delivered to a handful of asshole white supremacists - and that’s enough of a reason to watch a movie in my book.