Review: 'Becky' (2020) is more 'Die Hard' than 'Home Alone'.
Updated: Aug 10, 2020
“Home Alone on steroids”.
You can almost hear the elevator pitch for this film. And no doubt, the producers will have a good reason to get excited.
Becky (Lulu Wilson) is disturbed. She is dealing with her mother’s death. Her father Jeff (Joel McHale) is marrying Kayla (Amanda Brugel), a woman she still has to warm up to, and she is being forced to spend a weekend with them along with her would-be mother’s little son.
All this is fueling her teenage angst factor all the way up to 11. And then some.
After a spat with her father when he announces his plan to marry ----, she storms out of her house to take refuge in her lair – a small wooden cabin, along with her dogs.
Meanwhile, her home is invaded by dangerous escaped convicts headed by Kevin James (a convincing transformation from Paul Blart). They are here apparently to get a key that Kevin James had hidden in their basement and which Becky has discovered.
Her father’s murder flips the final switch for her to go direct her considerable anger towards the killers.
The stage is set. Let The Hunger Games begin!
As Becky begins to kill the invaders one by one you realize that in spite of having a teenage girl as the protagonist, this is essentially a very male fantasy: More Die Hard than Home Alone. Each of the violent comeuppance that the villains receive is celebrated by (admittedly exciting) electronic score by ----.
An intercut fight in the jail and a school at the beginning hints at a theme of aggression that foments in institutionalized places, but besides that, there is nothing here which hints at something deeper or more effective. Because the violence does not have grounding, it comes across more tedious than disturbing.
The film is clearly not about the effect of an adult’s actions on children. There is another child in the film who is kept almost entirely out of the proceedings. This angle could have been explored through him.
There is a lot of posturing and ‘cool’ but there is no sense of discovery in the main character. What if that triumph and glee that filmmakers exhibit at each of her successful kills were expressed by the character instead of them? That kind of an objective stand would have greatly helped. Also, absent from the narrative is media. This is not even an art imitates life or vice versa. Becky comes across as more scary than the neo-Nazis that invade her home. Maybe, the filmmakers Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion wanted to make a Straw Dogs type statement about violence. But Sam Peckinpah never condoned the violence.
The teenager here is on the same territory as the one in the haunting Pyewackett (2017) was. The girl in that film is also dealing with her father’s death among other things, and her psychological exploration leading up to the final act is haunting, to say the least.
Becky on the other hand has more visceral thrills on its mind. There is nothing wrong with that, but a film which celebrates youth violence as heroic and indulges in occasional animal violence too, better be damned good.