Released: 10th September
Seen: 15th September
Home invasion movies are a staple of many genres, have been for years but I think we can all agree that they really hit their pinnacle with a little comedy film called Home Alone (sidebar, you know there’s 4 sequels to that movie? AND a reboot that was filming until *gestures at the apocalypse*) that showed us the fun side of what would happen if a pair of criminals broke into the house of a kid who just discovered who Rube Goldberg was. Of course this idea is a big staple of the Horror genre, films like Hush and You’re Next pit a home invader against an intelligent home owner who will defend themselves to the death… and now someone has gone “OK, let’s take the young kid from Home Alone and blend him with the badass women from Hush and You’re Next” and turns out you can get something kind of interesting out of that.
Becky focusses on a teenager coincidentally named Becky (Lulu Wilson) who is still trying to cope with the death of her mother. The emotional strain from that loss has driven a wedge between her and her father Jeff (Joel McHale), a wedge that only seems to grow bigger when Jeff brings Becky to their holiday cabin and surprises her by also bringing his new fiance Kayla (Amanda Brugel) and her son Ty (Isaiah Rockcliffe). As if the weekend wasn’t bad enough, at some point in the afternoon the house is invaded by a quartet of Nazi’s headed by Dominick (Kevin James) searching for a very special key that they left on the property, somehow. Well, now Dominick has stupidly done the worst thing he could do… he pissed off a teenage girl who has the patience and the resources to ruin his life.
From the moment the film starts, it doesn’t play with kid gloves. Becky is here to mess you up in any way that it can using every tool currently at its disposal. If that means an elongated torture sequence involving a hot sharp object and someone’s very stabbable body, that’s what they’ll use. If the film needs to shoot a dog multiple times to get a response, a dog is getting a lot of bullets in them (Yes, a dog dies in this film, I know that is a hard line for some people). It’s brutal and not afraid to linger on the brutality as it happens. It’s not lingering to be cool, this isn’t some over the top fun death like one might see in an 80s slasher. No, this is desperation, a young girl using every bit of her strength to try and take on a pack of Nazis by putting sharp objects into their necks (incidentally, “A Nazi’s neck” is the exact place one should put all sharp objects, just a fun lesson for you there).
What really makes this work is the two lead performances. Lulu Wilson is basically carrying this entire film and has to make you believe that this young girl would somehow be able to hold her own against a bunch of fully grown men. They never treat her like some superpowered teen who can take them easily, they regularly make sure that we all know that the main bad guys could take her out in a second, she’s just outsmarting them and it’s incredible. She’s sympathetic and terrifying all at the same time. Then there’s Kevin James who I had written off as an actor because of his work in all those awful Adam Sandler films but no, this is probably the best performance of Kevin’s career. He’s terrifying and intimidating, he has so many moments where you fear for everyone around him. Can he please play more villains because I liked this, I want more from him.
The one thing the film does kind of falter on is tone, it goes between goofy and gritty to the point where it just doesn’t work. When it’s dark and unapologetic about it, the film is genuinely something amazing. When it starts to get into more standard slasher territory, that’s when it doesn’t work as well. Some of it just gets a bit silly and contrived, one bad guy just kind of goes “Screw this, I don’t wanna do bad things anymore” and walked out of the film for 15 minutes and while it is kind of foreshadowed, it’s also dumb. There’s just a lot of these dumb moments that the film didn’t need because it’s honestly at its best when it’s a 13 year old just brutally torturing and killing some Nazis. That’s family entertainment right there.
While the lead performances are great and you will never hear me complaining about a movie that champions the cause of “Fuck Nazis”, the film is uneven enough that it keeps it from genuine greatness. When the film works though, it’s a lot of fun. Not only is it fun because seeing Nazi’s in pain is always delightful, but because it’s a tense thrill ride that has some very clever ideas and set pieces. I wish it’d done a little more, smoothed out the tone problem and maybe given Kayla a little bit more of an active role than what she gets but on the whole, it’s an enjoyable watch.