There should be special place in movie hell for lazy filmmakers who get off showing adults terrorizing children and animals. Is there an easier or cheaper way to jolt an audience? That’s a rhetorical question. Becky, available on demand and at a drive-in near you starting June 5th, is too mindless and meh to get Child Protective Services and the ASPCA all up in a twist. But this ultra-violent, ultra-stupid smarm-bomb deserves to take a few lumps before shuffling off to the digital boneyard.
The gifted child actor Lulu Wilson (Annabelle: Creation) is saddled with the role of Becky Hooper, a 13-year-old mass of throbbing resentment since her mother died of cancer and her dad, Jeff (Joel McHale), announced that he’s marrying Kayla (Amanda Brugel) and bringing the interloper and her young son Ty (Isaiah Rockcliffe) to the lakeside vacation home that overflows with memories of Becky’s mother. So that leaves two kids and two family pups to fuck up when a handful of escaped cons stage a home invasion at chez Becky.
In a coup of shameless, gimmick casting, the leader of this neo-Nazi pack is played by Kevin James. That’s right, the avuncular sitcom star of The King of Queens and Kevin Can Wait and the butt of fat-guy jokes in such yuck-yuck film farces as Paul Blart: Mall Cop and almost anything from his buddy Adam Sandler. James is clearly relishing the chance to go full psycho as a decidedly unfunny, bearded, tattooed skinhead with a swastika carved into his bald dome. Dominick, that’s his name, likes to spout theories about purity in humans and animals. He praises his Rottweiler for having endurance, intelligence and strength that are bred in the blood. Then, shooting a dark look at Kayla and Ty, who are African American, he adds: “That’s why you never let them mate with other breeds.”
So much for setting the racist ground rules. Credit James for the soft tones he uses to exude menace. Unfortunately, he’s speaking the most risible dialogue this side of an Ed Wood fiasco. It took three dudes to write the script (Ruckus Skye, Lane Skye, and Nick Morris) and two more to direct it — Cary Murnion and Jonathan Milott (Bushwick, Cooties). The attempt of Murnion and Milott to ape the kinetic style of the Safdie brothers (Uncut Gems) comes up way short.
At least Dominick and his motley crew — Cole (Ryan McDonald), Hammond (James McDougall), and Apex (6-foot-10 former pro wrestler Robert Maillet) — aren’t looking for the usual stash of stolen cash. They’re searching for a key. The script stays vague about what the key unlocks. What we do know is that Becky has it. And while the cons try to get dad and his new family to talk by shooting Kayla in the leg in front of her terrified son and murdering one of the family dogs, Becky bolts for her fort in the woods to evade capture. Does she do this by running to the nearest neighbor to call the cops? Nah. That would mean no movie. Instead, she morphs into a killing machine and lays traps to bring these bastards to a grisly end.
Becky stabs one bad guy in the face with her hard pencils—he’s the lucky one. Another gets mangled by an outboard motor. And Dominick himself winds up with an eye hanging out of its socket, requiring a scissor to snip the optic nerve. Cheers to makeup artist Karlee Morse for providing the rendered flesh. As the blood splatters and Becky begins to look like Home Alone spawned a bastard child with Hostel, you realize that the filmmakers have achieved the dubious distinction of creating the first movie ever that qualifies as torture porn for all ages.