The Wrath of Becky is a Brutally Incisive Sequel [Review]
Becky, released in 2020, was a surprisingly gnarly little thriller about a young girl whose home is besieged by neo-Nazis and, rather than just succumbing to them, she fights back with everything she’s got (and a few sharp implements, naturally). The Wrath of Becky finds our titular heroine carving out a somewhat normal life with a sweet old woman (Denise Burse) who doesn’t ask too many questions. Understandably, since Becky’s family was massacred in front of her, she wants to stay off the grid and out of the system. But she’s still Becky and after pissing off some more no-good types it’s time for her to unleash a one-woman war, once again.
The Wrath of Becky kicks off with a selection of jarringly idyllic family scenes, captured using the kind of over-saturated color palette that recalls the “Black Hole Sun” music video–with just the right amount of bitter acidity to match. The bubble is burst when Becky herself punctures the proceedings to let us know that, despite her outwardly sunny disposition, she’s still the same Becky–same caustic wit, same DGAF attitude. It turns out that Becky has fled every normal foster family to which she’s been assigned in the time since losing her beloved father simply because, well, she doesn’t want to be tied down. Becky manages to keep mostly out of trouble by working at a local diner where she gleefully fantasizes about violently hurting every horrible customer she has to wait on.
However, when some “Noble Men”–a group very obviously, and rather deliciously, modeled after the odious Proud Boys from the way they’re dressed to how they speak, their lame-ass flag, and even the matte-black truck they roll up in–enter, Becky quickly finds herself in over her head. Soon, they’ve descended upon her home and taken Becky’s beloved pet pooch, Diego, hostage before leaving her to bleed out on the floor. She tracks them down to a lakeside hideout and waits patiently to pick them off one by one in a clever twist on how these kinds of movies typically treat their female characters (notably, much like its predecessor, the film is co-written by a woman once again while tons of women worked behind the scenes too). In the case of The Wrath of Becky, as with its predecessor, the men underestimate who they’re dealing with to their considerable detriment.
Sequels are required to up the ante without messing with the formula too much, and the filmmakers behind The Wrath of Becky – Matt Angel, who also stars, and Suzanne Coote, who both penned the razor-sharp screenplay with returning scribe Nick Morris – understand that what we loved most about the first movie was watching Lulu Wilson laying waste to a bunch of assholes in increasingly vicious and creative ways. The world has changed considerably, even since 2020, and they have plenty to say about the kind of losers who populate the so-called “manosphere” and who stormed the Capitol on January 6th in an effort to take back the country for white people. In fact, the use of the word “insurrection” is a key turning point for one naïve recruit, solidifying just how seriously Angel, Coote, and Morris took their assignment.
The group’s sexist dialogue is increasingly infuriating, which only gets us more excited for how sweet it’s going to be watching Becky tear them limb from limb. The movie is well-researched to the point that it feels as though several lines have been taken directly from the Proud Boys’ playbook. Anybody who’s spent time reading up about these fools online will immediately recognize the way they speak and act. Angel, Coote, and Morris aren’t just using the Noble Men as easy targets, though, they’re making a valid and incisive point about just how prevalent their ideology is, and how much of it flies under the radar until it’s too late. Kevin James led the charge in Becky, and, for the sequel, the filmmakers turn to another comedic actor–albeit one who’s gone very dark before.
Seann William Scott, who winningly portrayed a serial killer in Bloodline, plays against type once again as the group’s de facto leader, a charming and disarmingly well-spoken neckbeard named Darryl. The camera slowly crawls across his followers’ rapt faces as Darryl proselytizes, introducing the character voice first so that those who immediately recognize the artist FKA Stifler will be confused and the rest left intrigued as they wait to see his face. It’s a deliberate choice since Darryl speaks quietly to command closer attention, recalling the time he killed a fellow soldier in the line of duty because he was making too much noise after being injured with an air of untouched nonchalance. Later, he’ll almost noiselessly kill someone in cold blood just to prove a point. These wayward men are so utterly convinced they’re doing the right thing that nothing is too much of a sacrifice for the cause. Naturally, though, when Darryl does finally raise his voice, it’s scary.
Scott is channelling Sir Patrick Stewart’s celebrated performance as another ultra-confident Nazi leader in Green Room, but his methods are less, well, methodical. The group’s target is Senator Hernandez, a Latina congresswoman clearly based on AOC, whose photo adorns the walls of their clubhouse. Although this is Becky’s story, the filmmakers make it very clear that these kinds of people really exist and that they’re dangerous. One of the movie’s tensest sequences finds Becky hiding under a sofa while Darryl chats amiably with one of his followers just inches away from her, casually using disgusting racist language–though, thankfully, the screenwriters don’t include slurs purely for shock value the way someone like Tarantino often does. It soon becomes clear that although both sides are armed to the hilt, this is essentially a battle of wits, and The Wrath of Becky takes its time establishing this juicy premise before its epic showdown.
There are plenty of fun stylistic touches scattered throughout, from the opening credits, which kind of recall The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (doubly funny considering Wilson passingly resembles series lead Kiernan Shipka), to the way the camera holds on Becky’s open-mouthed scream early on while flickering back to her violent past, and how she ties her hair up into a ponytail before heading into battle. The ending is delightfully silly, not necessarily gunning for another sequel but not discounting one either, while there are tons of LOL-worthy lines including a deadpan statement about a potential friend for Becky who’s “in a wheelchair…but you’ll like her anyway.” Aside from taking their time making the Noble Men feel real, the filmmakers ensure the visuals are strong too.
Becky’s eye-catching jumpsuit–she dresses in red to be seen, rather than to camouflage herself against the environment–is a Halloween costume waiting to happen and the Noble Men’s T-shirts–including the infamous “if guns kill people, what about [everything else]” tee and “my pronoun is patriot”–are as hilarious as they are shockingly normalized nowadays. The violence, meanwhile, is predominantly practical once again and super tactile, even if it’s not quite as inventive as Becky (to be fair, it’s tough to come up with even crazier stunts than that movie, which was in a league of its own and remains criminally underrated). But, more importantly, it’s all believably stuff that Becky herself could pull off, as we understand her as a character. She’s not superhuman or impenetrable; she’s a teenage girl with nothing to lose who wants to stop some bad dudes from doing even more damage and, even though we’re rooting for her, there’s a chance Becky won’t survive this.
Unsurprisingly, Wilson kills it (no pun intended) in the lead role. She’s more comfortable, looser, this time around with a steely glint in her eye and a surer grasp on both her physicality and comic timing. The fact she’s still an actual teenager helps enormously, since if Wilson was a twenty-something with all the life experience that entails written on her face, Becky wouldn’t be able to tread that line between fearlessness and vulnerability as well as she does–Becky could teach Laurie Strode a thing or two about using surviving violence to her advantage for sure. The character doesn’t exist without Wilson and, thankfully, Scott more than rises to the challenge of meeting her when they finally go toe-to-toe. There was a sense that the American Pie alum had something to prove with his role in Bloodline, so The Wrath of Becky gives him more room to breathe and experiment. He’s totally believable as a loser with too much power but Darryl isn’t a one-note monster either. It’s tough to know whether the character would work as well with someone else at the helm, since Wilson and Scott make for such a genius pairing and much of the movie is spent anticipating their big face-off.
Maybe the filmmakers, and their co-screenwriter, were inspired to make this follow-up because of horrifying real-life events such as the Capitol insurrection, or perhaps they just felt this character had more of a story to tell, but either way The Wrath of Becky more than makes a case for itself as a worthy successor to the wonderfully wild 2020 movie. It’s as entertaining as it is thought-provoking, loaded with laughs and shockingly gory set-pieces, many of which exist purely in the protagonist’s twisted imagination. With any luck, this release will encourage people to go back and check Becky out too. And hopefully, some real-life Nazis will discover them both and be really mad.
WICKED RATING: 8/10
Director(s): Matt Angel, Suzanne Coote
Writer(s): Matt Angel, Suzanne Coote, Nick Morris
Stars: Lulu Wilson, Seann William Scott, Denise Burse, Michael Snow
Release date: May 26, 2023
Run Time: 83 minutes
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