By Alif Majeed.
There is something immensely enjoyable about genre movies with set rules, which follows a particular set trajectory. You can see how it will flow and where it is headed very early in the film.
Home invasion movies are one such genre where the satisfaction level is magnified based on how well the main character fares against the antagonists and how much you end up rooting for each side. Even if it sometimes borders on stereotypes, it can be gratifying to watch.
Becky is a movie that does not break any new grounds, but part of why it ends up being enjoyable is how it well it manages to tip the hat for all the classic home invasion movies that came before it. The proportion of your enjoyment of Becky would also depend on how much you enjoy genre movies as a whole.
The movie starts with a bloodied Becky (Lulu Wilson) getting interrogated about an incident that she seems to have survived. Ragged and cold, you know it will soon cut to flashback mode to show what happened to her. And of course it does, when it cuts back to her lake house trip with her father Jeff (Joel McHale, playing it sympathetic and dignified) about a year after her mother’s passing. Pretty soon, she realizes that the reason for the trip is also to introduce her to his new girlfriend and her child. She then runs away into her hideout in the woods with her dog, where she finds a mysterious key inside a tin box.
Things take a turn when a gang of thieves led by Dominick (Kevin James) comes to the lake house, searching for the said key and hold the family hostage for it. As Becky and the gang become aware of each other’s presence, it becomes a survival game for both sides.
The best thing about Becky is that it wears it’s references on its sleeve. Right from the methods, Becky uses to dispatch the intruders. For example, the maiming using the speed boat looks like it came straight off I Spit on your grave. Even the infamous ice truck child-killing opening from Assault in Precinct 13 gets the nod in Kevin James and his gang’s introduction, and there are various other nods to modern home invasion movies like You’re next. Depending on what your view is, it might come off as cliches or clever nods.
A lot of noise has been made about how a kid is at the center of all the violence. And Becky can get shockingly violent at many points. I didn’t have an issue with that purely because she is mostly acting on the fight or flight approach generally associated with home invasion movies. What I found unnerving was the implication that she might be just enjoying the killings.
You could also draw parallels to Hit girl, another teen character who revels in blood lust and the violence around her. Still, Lulu Wilson plays well with the character’s ambiguous nature. One can hope that she would break out as Chloe Grace Moretz did with Kickass as she does a tremendous job selling the movie and character, including the problematic parts. You never really know if she is killing to survive or if she is doing it because she likes it until the last minute, and a lot of it has to do with her portrayal of Becky.
Simon Pegg may have been the initial choice for Kevin James’ character, and as much as that is a very inspired choice, he probably might not be able to bring in the raw physicality the latter brings in to the role. It is a bizarre part, with James playing an out and out bad guy, and he mostly nails the part.
Your sympathies also go for Robert Maillet, who is probably the best character in the movie. He does well as a guy alternating between becoming weary of his ways and disgusted by his fellow mates while trying to stay loyal to them. He even goes as far as trying to protect the family from his gang’s maniacal ways. After making a career of playing intimidating henchmen, it could very well be his definitive henchmen role yet.
Sure, Becky does come off a lot like Die Hard in a lake house, but with a kid. And I could almost imagine online videos of it cut to look like Home Alone coming out somewhere down the line, complete with the comic background score. Threading the same path of many that came before it, Becky might not break new grounds or reinvent the wheel, but if you are a genre movie fan, particularly home invasion movies, there is a lot to enjoy in Becky.
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