It’s strange to think of the holiday-themed movie Home Alone like a home invasion film, but it’s playing with themes on the most superficial level of this subgenre of horror. The Wet Bandits, as the burglars are called in the film, aren’t structured for deep character menace and the violence. Once the blowtorch starts burning and the paint canisters start swinging, everything is played for slapstick comedy instead of gruesome horror.
Becky, from directors Jonathan Millot and Cary Murnion, takes a simplistic story that feels, in the beginning, like an overwrought family drama and infuses it with hefty doses of violence, gore, and a little inspiration from Home Alone. However, what may bring most people to make the decision to pick this grisly little film for a weekend stream is the role of actor Kevin James, yes, The King of Queens Kevin James, playing a neo-Nazi. However, the better role belongs to up-and-coming actress Lulu Wilson, who channels her family-drama/tragedy anger into unbridled and vicious rage.
Becky (Lulu Wilson) is mourning the death of her mother and infuriated with her father Jeff (Joel McHale) during a road trip to their remote family vacation house. Things don’t get better, as Jeff has invited his new girlfriend Kayla (Amanda Brugel) for the weekend getaway without telling Becky. If things couldn’t get any worse, a group of escaped prison inmates come knocking at their door; led by Dominick (Kevin James), the bad guys are looking for a secret key that they are willing to torture and kill anyone for.
Becky functions on a very simplistic premise and an all-too-familiar pacing scheme. The story starts with a home invasion angle in the woods, the location works nicely for the setup, and then transitions into a brutal tale of survival with a teenager left to fight the monsters tormenting her loved ones. The narrative tries for a few surprises, throwing in a mystery about a key all parties involved are desperate for and some unexpected moments of violence, but these flashes are minimal in the shape of the story.
The title of the film tells you exactly what the focus is… Becky. Lulu Wilson is a great joy to watch as she transforms into an angrier and more volatile version of Kevin from Home Alone. The composition of her character is moody at first, then it’s revealed that she is grief-stricken, and then she turns into a vessel of anger. It’s a great transition and watching Ms. Wilson go through all those emotions is a majority of the fun of experiencing the film.
One might assume the amusing piece would be Kevin James, the often typecasted comedian sheds the jokes for a straightforward serious smirk with a large symbol of hate tattooed on the back of his head. But Mr. James isn’t given the compositional material to explore the character he is trying to portray, Instead, his menace is restricted to surface level threats with harsh language thrown in for amusement. Still, in small moments the actor composes interesting emotional pieces concerning the hatred that defines his motivations, with more of that perspective this film could have been something completely different.
Becky wanders a strange path in terms of its tone. While most of the movie functions as a hardboiled thriller, there are random moments of horror that feel thrown in for pure sensation, whether special effects-driven, such as a gruesome set piece involving a butcher’s block, or specific scenes the movie just doesn’t know what to do with. While genre fans might get some amusement from the more visceral moments, or the change in dynamic of the title character as she turns into something ferocious, the bulk of Becky feels uneven in ways that keep it from being the satisfying genre film it’s trying to emulate.
Movie Score: 3/5