Directed By: Jonathan Milott, Cary Murnion
Written By: Nick Morris, Lane Skye, Ruckus Skye
Home invasion films are not really my thing. There have been a few that I have liked but mostly I find that they just aren’t for me. When I heard that there was a home invasion movie starring Kevin James as the villain, I sort of dismissed the movie. Then I saw some stills from it and I was a little more interested, then I saw the trailer for it and I wanted to see it. Then I saw it and I will never see Kevin James in the same way again. This is a long way from Paul Blart: Mall Cop.
In Becky, James plays Dominick, the leader of a group of escaped convicts who have invaded a home in search of a mysterious key. On the property is Becky, her father, his girlfriend and the girlfriend’s young son. Becky is a teenage girl whose mother has died. She is not a fan of her father’s new girlfriend. After an argument at the dinner table, Becky storms off into the woods behind the house. This is when Dominick and his crew shows up. They believe that they have the house’s occupants restrained and are in complete control. They soon find out about Becky though and it’s not going to be as easy as going out and getting her.
The standoff that plays out between Becky and Dominick is amazing. Yes, Dominick has a few other guys with him but he’s talking to Becky on a walkie talkie and this is clearly between the two of them. The back and forth between the two is gripping and it’s made all the more so by the techniques employed by the directors. At times they use a split screen to make it seem as though the two characters are talking directly to one another, even though they are on opposite ends of the property. These scenes are a testament to the power of well written dialogue and properly executed technique.
The cornerstone of this movie is the performances. How does Kevin James come across as a big, scary guy? The answer: Extremely big and scary. I don’t know if I will ever be able to watch The King Of Queens in the same way again. Dominick is a cold man and James channels his violent nature in a way that I didn’t think was possible. He’s not the only standout in Becky though. Lulu Wilson turns in an amazing performance as the titular character. Through her we see Becky’s vulnerability and capability on display at all times. It’s an interesting juxtaposition watching this little teenage girl face off against a hulking, evil man and believing that she can best him. Wilson makes you believe that she is capable of beating Dominick throughout the film. Kevin James isn’t the only comedic actor in this cast, Joel McHale plays Jeff, Becky’s father, and he does a great job showing the love for and constant battle with his daughter as they navigate a difficult relationship. Amanda Brugel also expertly conveys the difficulty of trying to blend families as Jeff’s new girlfriend Kayla. There isn’t a bad performance in the movie.
I didn’t have high expectations going into Becky. There were some things going against it, a sub-genre I don’t care for and a comedian in the villain role (which I thought of as mere stunt casting). Sometimes filmmakers surprise you and that’s always a treat. Sometimes performers surprise you and that is one of my favorite things in the world. Kevin James surprised me more than maybe any other performer who has been cast against type. His performance is going to be the thing that everyone is talking about after seeing this film, and he’s great, I just hope that it doesn’t overshadow a brilliantly made film that is easily the surprise of 2020.
WOULD I SURVIVE?
No. In order to survive you have to be able to use your surroundings to overcome the challenges in front of you. I don’t have that ability. I would, at best, join the bad guys or, at worst, be murdered very early into the story.