Becky (2020) Review

From the same directing duo who gave us Cooties (2015) and Bushwick (2017), Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion’s third feature presents something that most of us wouldn’t expect in the first place. Or more appropriately, someone. And that person in question is Kevin James. Yes, that Kevin James. The comedian who is best known for his popular sitcom, The King of Queens as well as big-screen comedies like I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry (2007), Paul Blart: Mall Cop (2009), Grown Ups (2010) and provided the voice of Frankenstein in the Hotel Transylvania trilogy.

In Becky, the veteran comedian takes on his first dramatic role as a neo-Nazi escaped convict. And a violent one too, who doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty when comes to killing a person. Kevin James is easily the movie’s biggest draw and frankly, he does quite a good job portraying a remorseless antagonist for the first time.

At the centre of the movie is Lulu Wilson, who plays the titular teenage girl having a hard time coping with her mother’s death. Her dad (Joel McHale) already move on and he’s even ready to get married to his girlfriend Kayla (Amanda Brugel). Naturally, Becky isn’t pleased with her dad’s decision upon learning about the announcement while they are having a meal at a lake house.

Kevin James and Lulu Wilson in a scene from "Becky"

So, she ends up wandering off into the woods and that’s when Dominick (Kevin James) and his three other escaped convicts show up in the lake house. Apparently, he’s looking for a key hidden somewhere inside the house. The key is pretty much a McGuffin that Becky actually has it with her.

With no outside help whatsoever, Becky turns into a female version of Macaulay Culkin’s Kevin McCallister, as she attempts to overcome the escaped convicts via Home Alone-like style. The only biggest difference between that 1990 holiday classic and Becky is none of them plays for laughs. The movie is as mean-spirited as it goes, with Becky killing them in a gory fashion. Her weapons of choices are interesting too, covering everything from a bunch of tied-up pencils to a ruler and even a key. The latter particularly among the movie’s gruesome moments. The kind where it’s impossible not to look away, especially the way she uses it against her assailant.

While the ultra-violent version of Home Alone seems like a dream come true for horror fans, the execution itself is a mixed bag. The practical gore effects are top-notch. Some of the cast, from the aforementioned Kevin James to Lulu Wilson’s engaging angst-ridden portrayal as Becky and retired wrestler-turned-actor Robert Maillet’s gentle-giant supporting turn as one of Dominick’s crew members, are all worthwhile.

And yet, Becky remains a missed opportunity. The otherwise compact 93-minute running time feels as if it was forcefully stretched over a paper-thin screenplay that goes around in circles. The pace tends to be erratic while Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion could have done more with their single location by amping up the movie with enough claustrophobic tension.