It’s hard to imagine that such a small film like 2020 “Becky” would warrant a sequel, let alone one that is actually given a theatrical release. Of course, that release is select and small, but nevertheless a film that could barely sustain its original premise for 90 minutes is back for another stab at things. It is the folly of praise that merits sequels sometimes, the high marks from critics and audiences alike pave the way for more regardless of whether more is necessary. Even for someone who really enjoyed “Becky,” no part of me felt a need to return to the world. I’m all for an R rated “Home Alone” like series who’s prime hook is dispatching of neo nazis and “proud boys” sorts, and both “Becky” and its new sequel “The Wrath of Becky” certainly deliver that in spades. However, without anything outside of casting comedians to play these dubious antagonists, no amount of absurdity and bloody violence can make up for the fact that this racist killing ship runs out of steam rather quickly even when it’s giving you everything you asked for.
Matt Angel returns as a writer/director for this follow up, with Suzanne Coote joining him in the director’s chair for “The Wrath of Becky.” Picking up exactly where “Becky” left off, the titular character Becky (Lulu Wilson) is ostensibly trapped in the foster care system after neo nazis killed her father, leaving her with only her dog and no family or home. Unable to fully assimilate or sit still long enough, she is taken in by an elderly woman Elena (Denise Burse) who is also trying to rebuild her life and put the past behind her. They develop a friendship and Becky takes a job as a waitress at the local diner. Of course, trouble ensues when a group of Noble Men (an online fascist group in town for a rally) enter the diner and have a run in with Becky. After a nasty encounter that claims Elena’s life and the men making off with her dog, the Noble Men learn quickly that they have messed with the wrong 16 year old girl.
The issue with “The Wrath of Becky” isn’t necessarily in the absurdity of its premise, but rather in the redundancy of its execution. With such little variance between this and its predecessor, it becomes difficult to be sustainably entertained even when Becky is cleverly dispatching one Noble Man after another. Similar to its predecessor, “Wrath of Becky” too seems incapable of fully capitalizing on its absurd ideas, and instead unfolds more like a bridge to bigger ideas to come than fleshing out any of the more intriguing ones baked into this sequel. That’s not to say that “Wrath of Becky” isn’t entertaining or fun. It is, and Angel and Coote seem to have a terrific handle on getting the most out of their performers while making the most of their budget limited settings. For such a small film, the production design and shot composition is top tier, which helps to overcome some of the film’s lulls as it moves along.
It helps too that Wilson is back for more carnage, because it is instantly apparent that she is having an absolute blast with the character of Becky. She is Kevin McCallister on steroids, dialed up to a psychopathic 11, and Angel’s clever use of easy targets most of us take glee in watching being dispatched allows for us to root for even the most bloody encounters. Wilson is delightfully unhinged but with a layer of controlled chaos, and were this more about the consequences of Becky’s action and the psychological trauma her violence wreaks on her mind, it would make for a much richer experience. But “Wrath of Becky” is unconcerned with such things, aiming to put the bad men through the ringer as Wilson’s twisted smile and giant eyes marvel at her violence. “Wrath of Becky” is simple bloody good fun, hindered only by its ambitions of what’s to come rather than digging deeper into the film at hand.
Like its predecessor, the antagonist is an unlikely comedic actor testing the limits of their nastiness as a despicable human being. Like Kevin James previously, Sean William Scott dons a stoic, haunting fascist leader willing to do whatever it takes for the movement. He is a worthy adversary for Becky, and leans into the idea that it’s good to be bad sometimes. Though the premise of “Wrath of Becky” is even more illogical and somewhat forced this time around (not like it wasn’t in “Becky,” but it doesn’t have the same natural unfolding here) both Wilson and Scott are fully committed which helps viewers suspend disbelief as the film continues to test that patience. “Wrath of Becky” is a bit more self aware this time, too. And though that makes it feel like a distant cousin instead of a direct sequel, the tongue in cheek carnage and reveling makes for some fun laugh out loud moments. Angel and Coote have no interest in being taken seriously, which is exactly the kind of direction and execution something as silly as “Wrath of Becky” needs to be successful.
Though “Wrath of Becky,” proves that it never gets old watching racists and alpha males meet their demise at the hands of a young teenager, the idea of a “Becky” franchise seems ill advised, especially when you have two entries that only scratch the surface of their own world building. But even as I write that, “Wrath of Becky” ends in such a tantalizing way it’s hard not to want to see what happens next. This whole idea should’ve been a one and done and the line should be drawn at a redundant, unnecessary sequel. And yet, here I am, hoping “Wrath of Becky” makes bagillion dollars over budget so I can show up and see wherever this insane story goes.
“Wrath of Becky” injects a healthy dose of humor amidst its gruesome slaughter-fest, and though it struggles at times to sustain its simplicity, it has enough to be an entertaining follow up and intrigue in the sequel it wants to make next.
I guess sign me up for “Becky: Fury Road” or whatever clever title they come up with for next installment.
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
“The Wrath of Becky” is now playing in select theaters. You can watch the trailer below.