Review: ‘The Wrath of Becky’ (2023)

It’s been three years since Becky Cooper (Lulu Wilson) tore four Neo-Nazis – led by The King of Queens himself, Kevin James – asunder after they made the grave mistake of murdering her father and executing one of her dogs. When Becky hit in Summer 2020, it managed to become a nice success on the drive-in circuit, playing there for months on end, while also doing well for itself on VOD. What the film lacked in originality, it made up for in exploitation zeal, as in addition to a game cast, Cooties and Bushwick directors Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion injected it with plenty of style.

Milott & Murnion are only producing this time out, alongside original writer Nick Morris. Instead, filmmaking team Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote have taken the wheel on the wonderfully titled The Wrath of Becky. I am unfamiliar with Angel & Coote’s previous films, The Open House and Hypnotic, both of which were Netflix originals. Based upon their work here, they seem to roll with a more traditional and slicker style, abandoning the looser handheld camera work and wilder editing transitions of the first in favor of a more classical look. Given the shift in tone, the change works, but more on that later.

I’m happy to say that Becky has lost none of her zeal for massacring racist/xenophobic/misogynistic scumbags in the interim. Now a 16-year-old runaway who works in a diner by day and rents a room from an aging kindred spirit (Denise Burse) by night, Becky more fierce and capable than ever. So when some Proud Boy analogs (Noble Men here) come a-knocking and make the mistake of destroying something else that she loves, Becky is more than ready to hunt them down.

These stains of humanity are but a symptom of a larger insidious cause, this time led by a former Army Ranger turned rightwing zealot. His name is Darryl and he’s played American Pie star Seann William Scott. That’s right, they’ve carried over the trope of casting a comedic actor to play the white supremacist scumbag-in-charge. Between his work in The Rundown and the Goon films, Scott is no stranger to cinematic violence, but it’s not often that he’s called upon to go dark with a role. I’m delighted to say that he’s just as good here as Kevin James was in the original.

Scott’s primary backups here are genre stalwart Courtney Gains (Children of the Corn) and soap veteran (and The Taking of Deborah Logan star) Jill Larson, both of whom are delicious evil in their own special ways. Each of them feed into the more playful tone at hand here, which has a decidedly more comedic and pulpier feel to it. That shift is liable to bother some fans of the original.

Does it make The Wrath of Becky a bit more meat & potatoes than the first one? Yes. Does it result in some more narrative leaps in logic than the grittier, more grounded original? Yes. Does it mean this sequel has less on its mind than the first? Yes. Did it still work for me overall? Yes.

When one asks for more of Becky, the character, what they are ultimately asking for is the opportunity to see Becky continue to destroy prejudiced scumbags and their insidious plots. This means we are asking for a teenage girl to be placed within a similar scenario to the original yet again, something that would be unlikely to occur in a “real world” scenario. It’s sort of like John McClane running into terrorist plots over and over again, but even less believable. So the only option is to amp up the comedy and lean into the pulp archness of it all.

The Wrath of Becky understands this and while it might stumble in places, it ultimately still gets the job done. It also sets things up for a potential third outing at the end, one that I hope comes to pass. The world is a bleak place right now; one filled with a lot of hateful people with heinous beliefs. I don’t know about you, but I gain a lot of enjoyment out of watching fictional versions of those people get their just desserts in cinema, be it at the hands of Indiana Jones, Sisu‘s Aatami, or Becky.

Keep ’em comin’!

The Wrath of Becky is the second installment of the Becky franchise. It was written and directed by Matt Angel & Suzanne Coote. The film was produced by Jordan Beckerman, Chadd Harbold, Jordan Yale Levine, J.D. Lifshitz, Raphael Margules, Russ Posternak, and Tracy Rosenblum. It stars Lulu Wilson, Seann William Scott, Jill Larson, Courtney Gains, Aaron Dalla Villa, Michael Sirow, Matt Angel, Denise Burse, and Kate Siegel.

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