Back in 2020 there was a pretty cool indie action type thing called BECKY. Lulu Wilson (The Haunting of Hill House) played a sullen thirteen year old trying to emotionally survive a cabin retreat with her widower father and his new fiance when suddenly she has to physically survive a home invasion by a neo-nazi gang. They killed her family (except for her dog Diego) so she hides the mysterious, possibly-mystical key they’re looking for and turns into kid McClane, violently hunting them using household and treehousehold items and wearing a cutesy knitted chipmunk hat.
I had some issues with BECKY but I enjoyed it enough to be excited by the prospect of a sequel with the pulpy title THE WRATH OF BECKY. It got a limited theatrical and VOD release back in May and has since come out on DVD (but not blu-ray I guess?).
The sequel comes from a different creative team – writer/directors Matt Angel & Suzanne Coote (THE OPEN HOUSE, HYPNOTIC) – and has a much jokier tone, as immediately evident in the smart-assy narration and montage where Becky sports a STEPFORD WIVES phony smile while courting potential foster parents. As soon as it works she runs away and lives off the grid with a nice old lady she meets while hitchhiking. Elena (Denise Burse, BASQUIAT) has nice, life-affirming talks with her and doesn’t judge her for her DIY combat training and building of booby traps in the nearby woods.
But they have the bad luck to live across the lake from another white supremacist shithead, the leader of a corny gang called the Noble Men, whose followers are coming to town to stage an attack on a senator when they happen to stop in the diner where Becky works as a waitress. She doesn’t put up with their goonish behavior and it offends them so deeply that they follow her home and break in to “scare her.”
Obviously it’s not all lighthearted. Some upsetting things have to happen to set Becky off. (SPOILER.) Things get messy, they end up killing Elena and taking Diego, so Becky straight up tells us in narration that she’s gonna kill these motherfuckers and get her dog back. Believe her.
One of the selling points of BECKY was the stunt-casting of America’s comedy goofball Kevin James in the very serious role of the white supremacist leader. I didn’t quite buy him as the character, but many people did, and there were some chilling moments in that one. Here they follow a similar playbook by casting America’s Stifler, Seann William Scott, as Noble Men leader Darryl, and this time I think it really works. Although he will ultimately face the ignoble humiliation of being a misogynist outmatched by a young girl, he’s not playing his usual doofus. He’s serious and mostly competent, trying to steer his stupid followers to success, showing a cult leader charisma as he pretends to be their friend, forbids them from calling him “sir,” and stays unnervingly calm about their escalating fuckups, meanwhile clearly scaring the shit out of them anyway.
So there’s a grounded threat here, playing off the ugliness of the real world right wing extremism of today, but on Becky’s side things are getting much more absurd. In the first one it seemed like a DIE HARD touch that she talked to the bad guys through a walkie talkie, but here she drops off a cell phone just to have a way to taunt them as she hunts them, almost more like Jigsaw or somebody. Honestly I detect a hint of the SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE sequels in the way it just asks us to enjoy the funny ways our unlikely protagonist can slaughter these assholes. She uses a crossbow, a machete, a throwing knife, mace, some traps, some tools. (Stunt coordinator: Corey Pierno [TRICK, A WOUNDED FAWN].)
One strength is that it moves quickly through it’s 83 minutes. There are a few surprises and a particularly silly twist at the end that sets up an even more ridiculous part 3 that they’re hoping to do. This may or may not be the best possible way to sequelize BECKY, but I respect that it’s not repetitive. The tonal shift kept me on my toes.
There is one bit of what they call “fan service” that I actually would’ve enjoyed. There’s a scene where Becky pulls her old chipmunk hat out of a drawer and looks at it, remembering the bloodshed that occurred that time she wore it. This really had me anticipating her donning it for battle, pulling it on ritualistically, like Rambo tying his headband, but it doesn’t happen. That’s okay. Older Becky is still very cheeky: she sews the name tag from her waitress uniform onto her orange nazi-killing coveralls. She has fun with it and expresses herself. That’s what fashion is for.
As far as entertaining Nazi-killing films of 2023 go, I prefer SISU, but I’m happy for it to be a subgenre, and I hope the BECKY saga continues. Who should play the villain next time around? Do you think Carrot Top could pull off something like that? Maybe Scott’s SOUTHLAND TALES co-star Jon Lovitz? I don’t know. But I look forward to finding out.