Synopsis – A teenager’s weekend at a lake house with her father takes a turn for the worse when a group of convicts wreaks havoc on their lives.
My Take – While it has been a set norm for a few decades now, somehow it still remains congenial to witness an established comedian making taking a break from the funnies and turning dramatically serious, often to good results.
For example, Billy Murray scored an Oscar nomination for Lost in Translation, Eddie Murphy landed a nomination for Dream Girls, Steve Carell has been killing it by swinging between comedies and dramas ever since he got nominated for Foxcatcher, Will Ferrell received much deserving appreciation for the indie, Everything Must Go, Jim Carrey gave one of his best performances in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (let’s not talk about The Number 23 and Dark Crimes), and most recently Adam Sandler won well deserving applaud for his turn in the dramatic thriller Uncut Gems.
Hence the biggest draw of this action horror from directors Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion (Cooties, Bushwick) is to now witness Sandler‘s buddy, Kevin James (The King of Queens), take on a purely dramatic role that too of an antagonist. With not even a hint of his Paul Blart: the Mall Cop character in sight, this time around Kevin James‘s immense frame isn’t cuddly but instead threatening as his neo-Nazi villain kills adults and children without any sign of remorse.
Though his performance of an extremely played out and cliché character is done as well as he can, it unfortunately turns out that the film happens to be produced with a barren script that is only interested in dishing out over-the-top gore and splatter.
From a gratuitous stabbing to a scene of eyeball violence designed to make most people squirm, the filmmakers embrace the violence and gore but doesn’t have much going for it beyond its elevator pitch which technically has just being recycled from other home invasion thrillers. Making the 100 minute experience quite flat.
The story follows Rebecca aka Becky (Lulu Wilson), a 13 year old girl who is still mourning the loss of her mother a year ago. Repressing her boiling emotions with a rebellious calm, her life becomes even more complicated when her father, Jeff (Joel McHale), decides to invite his girlfriend and soon-to-be fiancée Kayla (Amanda Brugel) along with her young son Ty (Isaiah Rockcliffe) to spend time with them in the family lake house without even telling her.
However, when Dominick (Kevin James), a Neo-nazi prison escapee and his crew take over the house hoping to find a mysterious key hidden somewhere around the property, Becky decides to becomes the sole line of defense with a clear determination to the make the escaped convict’s lives as difficult and bloody as possible.
What follows is a pretty simple exercise, Becky will use anything and everything at her disposal to maim and kill. The results are similarly mixed, as writers Nick Morris, Lane Skye and Ruckus Skye use a standard home invasion formula, injected with another standard formula of teen angst to just provide a hilarious squeamish amount of blood.
The biggest problem with the film is there’s both too much information to sustain any tension, and not enough to sustain interest. Sure, bratty teens are believable, obviously, but her sudden shift into a murderous bot seemed too far-fetched, and came down to the idiocy of the convicts. We watch as Becky picks off the thugs, but there’s never any mystery or sense that Becky is in danger, due to her own ferocity and wits.
While Dominick is given a couple short monologues highlighting his white supremacist bullshit and homicidal tendencies, but in practice he and his fellow bad guys are dumb as hell and played as fools.
Indeed, the film’s occasional over-the-top situations and dialogue keep it poised on the edge of camp fest territory, but it never quite gets there. Directors Cary Murnion and Jonathan Milott pull off a few effective visual flourishes, but honestly they had better material to work with in their previous films. It is also never clear what the key unlocks, and there’s no last-minute twist revealing its purpose.
The most Dominick ever says is that the key will restore order in the universe. He claims each race has a cosmically designated place in the world, and that what the key unlocks will put them there. As important and unlikely as that seems, the key is both a red herring and a McGuffin; it’s a jumping-off point, but nothing more. The lack of resolution or explanation is frustrating, despite the satisfying lack of pity for the Nazis.
The performances are decent enough. Frequent horror child actress Lulu Wilson is already well-versed in horror (Ouija: The Origin of Evil, Annabelle: Creation, The Haunting of Hill House), and here too she is formidable enough to establish herself as a mini scream queen. Kevin James, with his biker beard, bald head and skull-inked swastika, makes for a passable villain. The actor uses his size to intimidate, which is effective enough, but Dominick never truly gives us the shivers. Mainly as his one dimension character is mainly serving as fodder for Becky’s untapped rage.
However, the film’s most interesting performance comes from Robert Maillet, who plays Dominick’s lackey, Apex, and is the only one given a proper arc. In other roles, Joel McHale, Amanda Brugel, Ryan McDonald and Isaiah Rockcliffe are alright. On the whole, ‘Becky’ is a hollow and cliché filled action horror made to appease just fans of extreme gore.
Rated – R
Run Time – 100 minutes