Directors – Jonathan Milott & Cary Murnion, Screenplay – Nick Morris, Lane Skye & Ruckus Skye, Producers – Jordan Beckerman, Jordan Yale Levine, J.D. Lifshitz, Raphael Margulies & Russ Posternak, Photography – Greta Zozula, Music – Nima Fakhara, Visual Effects – Out of Our Minds Studios, Special Effects Supervisor – Derek Liscoumb, Makeup Effects – Karlee Morse, Production Design – Melanie Garros. Production Company – Yale Productions/Boulderlight Pictures/Bondit Media Capital/Buffalo 8/SSS Entertainment/SSS Film Capital.
Lulu Wilson (Becky Hooper), Kevin James (Dominick), Joel McHale (Jeff Hooper), Robert Maillet (Apex), Amanda Brugel (Kayla), Ryan McDonald (Cole), James McDougall (Hammond), Isaiah Rockliffe (Ty), Leslie Adlam (Mrs Hancher), John Hickman (Sheriff)
Thirteen year-old Becky Hooper accompanies her father Jeff on a trip up to the family cabin. Things have been tense between them since the death of Becky’s mother a year ago. Becky is happy when Jeff says he has changed his mind about selling the cabin but this is immediately ruined when she finds that has invited his girlfriend Kayle and her son Ty along for the weekend. Jeff then announces over dinner that he and Kayla are planning to get married, Becky runs away upset. While she is in the shed, the house is invaded by four criminals who have escaped from a prison transport van. The group’s Dominik imprisons the others, wanting a key that was hidden in the shed. When Dominik realises that Becky is there and has taken the key, he begins torturing her father to make her surrender the key. Becky instead finds reserves inside herself and begins to fight back.
Becky was the third film for the directing duo of Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion. I had enjoyed their first film Cooties (2014), a comedy about teachers facing off against zombie children. They subsequently made Bushwick (2017), which has a quasi-science-fictional scenario about a Brooklyn neighbourhood being invaded by an armed militia.
Becky is essentially Home Alone (1990) made as a horror movie, something that makes a whole lot more sense when you think about. Macaulay Culkin is replaced by Lulu Wilson and the thieves and their slapstick comeuppances by armed prison escapees who receive some surprisingly violent fates. The premise of the kid facing off against home invaders and finding a surprising degree of ingenuity in doing so was also conducted in The Aggression Scale (2012).
Milott and Murnion generate reasonable tension out of the situation in the turning of the tables, the outsmarting of either side and assorted showdowns. The film gets extremely gory – at one point, Kevin James has to cut through the stalk of his pierced eyeball with a pair of scissors. The ferocity with which Lulu Wilson stabs Ryan McDonald to death takes one aback, or a scene where she uses the outboard motor of a boat to slice up James McDougall.
In the title role is Lulu Wilson, a fourteen year-old actress who has been bubbling away in child performances in a number of genre roles in recent years including Deliver Us from Evil (2014), Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016), Annabelle: Creation (2017) and The Haunting of Hill House (2019). It’s a shame that Becky never received more attention beyond a Netflix release as what she does here pegs Lulu Wilson as well worth more substantial parts. Milott and Murnion’s camera stays on her face during the early scenes – following her turbulent emotional states and upsets. She holds up particularly well through the scenes fighting back all the way to the wonderfully ambiguous fadeout.
The other surprise of the film is Kevin James, an actor more used to comedy roles. James started as a stand-up comedian and emerged onto screens as an Adam Sandler associate, starring in films like Paul Mart, Mall Cop (2009), Zookeeper (2011) and Here Comes the Boom (2012). Here he takes his first serious role. One failed to notice it was him in shaved head, swastika tattoo and thick neck beard for some way into the film. He does well in the role too and provides some quite convincing threat. The film often plays against type – seven-foot tall Canadian actor Robert Maillet is usually cast as hulking brutes and killers but here plays a character of genteel strengths and doubts who becomes an unexpected support on several occasions.