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  Becky Girl Stopping Power
Year: 2020
Director: Jonathan Milott, Cary Murnion
Stars: Lulu Wilson, Kevin James, Joel McHale, Robert Maillet, Amanda Brugel, Isaiah Rockliffe, Ryan McDonald, James McDougall, Leslie Adlam
Genre: Horror, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Becky (Lulu Wilson) has some questions to answer about her conduct, but she's not sure she needs to justify herself. As a thirteen-year-old girl who lost her mother to cancer recently, she's been suffering psychologically, and is only really bonding with her two pet dogs who are her main companions. Her father, Jeff (Joel McHale) is trying to get through to her that she should try and move on and not be so angry at the world for taking her parent, but she won't listen. Which is why, as they head out to the family holiday home in the forest, she has mixed feelings about the news he has for her, and why the people she is about to encounter are really going to be sorry they ever messed with this particular little girl...

Everyone's having a bad day in this horror-inflected thriller, a genre which meant when the deaths arrived, they were so over the top as to be comically gory for the most part, and intended to have the audience relish the success of the titular heroine over some very nasty men. Those men were the prisoners we watched escape from a prison van at the beginning of the story, led by a cast against type Kevin James as Dominick, a white supremacist neo-Nazi who believes he has some divine right to spread his message of hate and division. Always a comedian up till this film, James was not about to revert to type here at all, and it was telling that the biggest laugh he got, indeed the only laugh he got, was when something very unpleasant happened to him.

Home Alone was the reference almost everyone used, but actually the closer point of identification was with one of those nineteen-eighties survival action flicks: Rambo was the most obvious character, but it wasn't a million miles away from Deadly Prey either, though the black humour here was more intentional than accidental. Wilson had the sullen look down pat, and with a face like thunder for around ninety percent of the movie you could just about believe Becky's rage borne of raging hormones and consideration of nobody's feelings but her own (and her dogs') would result in a murder spree on the type of men who we are fully intended to regard as thoroughly deserving their abuse. Yet while there was some identification with Becky required to appreciate her film, we were also asked to see her father's side, whose benevolent understanding is tested mightily by his offspring's permanent bad mood.

Well, bad mood is putting it mildly, and there was much sly amusement to be had from the script's positing of a teenage girl as the last person on Earth you should piss off. Dominick and his gang were after a key that is on Jeff's property, the significance of which was never explained - were they hoping for a sequel? This certainly did very well under coronavirus restrictions, a number one in the US movie charts when it was released in the summer of 2020, and it was nice to see a McGuffin so faithfully depicted that we remained thoroughly unbothered about why the key was such an object of desire, a mark of the purity of purpose of the production which ditched any extraneous plot points and simply got on with things with the minimum of fuss. The enthusiastic kills would satisfy many a horror aficionado (the ones directed at the villains, at least), there was a sense it was taking its protagonist seriously without taking itself as an entertainment too seriously, and it was mean enough not to fall into the cop out category such a young, let's face it, budding serial killer could have brought about: there are no sweet elements to Becky, and Hell hath no fury like her. Music by Nima Fakhrara.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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