THE WRATH OF BECKY

★★★

BLOODY BUT BRIEF WITH A STRONG POLITICAL MESSAGE

SYDNEY FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW
By Charlie David Page
16th June 2023

Horror films are often a vehicle for other messages. It's an easy genre for a filmmaker to convey subtext to an audience, who are generally on board due to the gore or gruesome nature of the film anyway. 'Get Out' gave Jordan Peele a platform to discuss racism. 'American Psycho' offers commentary on corporate greed. 'Rosemary's Baby' makes the point that women should have control over their reproductive choices. We now have the latest offering to provide a strong message - 'The Wrath of Becky' - with its concern political.

Becky (Lulu Wilson, Netflix's 'The Haunting of Hill House') seems to have gotten on with life and away relatively scot-free (minus a few temporary dalliances with foster families) - that is, until the peaceful existence she's set up for herself at the home of Elena (Denise Burse, TV's 'Black Mirror', 'The Juror') is imposed upon by three unbearable members of a terrorist cell called the Noble Men. When Sean (Matt Angel, TV's 'The Lincoln Lawyer') Anthony (Michael Sirow, 'Fortress') and DJ (Aaron Dalla Villa, 'Alpha Rift') drop by her place and cause trouble - including dognapping Diego - they and the founders of NM end up facing the wrath of Becky.

SWITCH: 'THE WRATH OF BECKY' TEASER TRAILER

In addition to being a delightfully bloody reunion with 'Becky' from 2020, this is a not-so-subtle look at the situation currently facing the United States. NM is an Oath Keepers-esque group causing trouble, looking to overhaul the government through violence and brute force. Don't get me wrong - there are acceptable times to overthrow a government (FYI - a former president notorious for his lies who's lost an election claiming it was rigged is not one of those), but certainly planning to assassinate democratically-elected leaders while being a chauvinistic cretin does not put you in the "good guys" category. Following on from her previous liaison with neo-Nazis, it's very clear here our titular character is out to do good, ridding the world of these nasty folk.

However, while bloody, the body count is a little thin. Those searching for the same vivaciousness from Wilson will certainly get what they paid for - in fact, I'd go so far as to say they're a little more creative this time around. Yet given the limitations placed upon the script, there are an extremely finite number of characters who can die, so the run time is an extremely speedy 84 minutes. Expect a hit of extreme violence followed by lengthy periods requiring patience in between.

Lulu Wilson does a wonderful job taunting the NM members from afar before going in for the kill (and executive producing the film - not bad for a 17-year-old).

Given that the plot sees Becky infiltrating the nest (so to speak) in order to retrieve her beloved Diego, we spend a lot more time with the members of the NM than Becky, so while Lulu Wilson does a wonderful job taunting them from afar before going in for the kill (and executive producing the film - not bad for a 17-year-old), she doesn't score a tonne of on-screen time until toward the end. The members of the NM all very much commit to the roles - Sean as the douchey leader, Anthony as the new recruit who's still uncertain about whether extremism is right for him, and comedic relief DJ. Introduce into the mix Seann William Scott ('American Pie' franchise) in an unexpectedly serious role - his monologue in one scene, in particular, will leave you with a new view of the actor.

Yet will this film succeed in delivering its message? With its heavy-handedness, the answer is probably no. Those who will watch the film are probably already more left-leaning, while those on the far right would avoid or fail to see it for what it is. Those most easily persuaded, closer to the middle, may be inclined to see some sense, but again with the somewhat caricatureness rendered by the screenplay on a serious topic, the true weight of the situation may be lost.

Nonetheless, 'The Wrath of Becky' is a reminder of the dark times we are living in globally - not just for those in the United States, who receive the lion's share of media attention with its situation. Countries across the world have seen harder right-leaning governments come into power, and while these parties have been voted in democratically in most situations, the outcomes have delivered some harsher-than-expected results for those people. While Becky's methods are extreme, the film urges us to remember that complacency is as pointless as compliance.

Looking for more Sydney Film Festival reviews? Click here to check out our collection of this year's highlights.
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