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What’s the point of “The Wrath of Becky,” a toothless revenge fantasy that pits a teenage girl against a cabin full of Neo-Nazis? “The Wrath of Becky” tiptoes after “Becky,” the promising but underwhelming 2020 revenge fantasy that introduced viewers to Becky (Lulu Wilson), an adolescent killing machine who stalks and slays a pack of skinheads.
Nazis are just another genre trope in both movies since it never really matters that Wilson’s bratty avenging angel has a beef with a nationalist militia group called the Noble Men. Neo-Nazi twerps are soft targets, which ostensibly makes rooting for their cartoonish destruction easier.
It’s still probably telling that, in both “Becky” and “The Wrath of Becky,” Wilson’s character must also lose a loved one before she gets fired up about killing wannabe fascists. It’s not enough that these dimwitted thugs stand in for real American hate groups, including QAnon and the Proud Boys: this time, much like last time, it’s personal.
“The Wrath of Becky” pointlessly retreads the first movie’s bathetic dramatic setup: Becky (still Wilson), now three years older (16), watches another gang of white guys kill a cherished guardian. At least in “Becky,” the sudden and seemingly random murder of Becky’s biological father, Jeff (Joel McHale), was one more cosmic injustice after another, according to thirteen-year-old Becky’s emotional logic. (Before Jeff kicks off, he tries to get Becky to stop pouting and befriend her new stepmom and stepsister.)
In “The Wrath of Becky,” a trio of insecure drips, led by the fratball-slimy Sean (Matt Angel), follows Becky back to her place after she spills coffee on Sean’s crotch. These guys stumble upon and have a fatal encounter with Elena (Denise Burse), the only foster parent that Becky has grown attached to in the three years between “Becky” and “The Wrath of Becky.” Becky vows to avenge Elena and tracks Sean’s group to a secluded lake house, where they await instructions from Darryl (Seann William Scott), a mysterious Q-like cult leader.
Watching Darryl’s tough-talking louts squirm is most of the fun in “The Wrath of Becky” since these guys, in addition to killing Elena, are also planning a January 6th-style coup. Darryl suspects something’s not quite Kosher with Sean and his guys, DJ (Aaron Dalla Villa) and Anthony (Michael Sirow). Soon, Becky reveals herself and starts picking off Darryl’s men with booby traps and the Proud Men’s own weapons arsenal.
Killing bigots is a fine enough pretext for this sort of watered-down post-grindhouse entertainment, but if you’re honestly going to go there, you can’t stop til you’re past the point of apology. The gross-out kill scenes in “The Wrath of Becky” are carefully presented as bloody comedic gags, though only one in three satisfies as a showcase for this sort of juvenile humor.
Directors Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote occasionally tell us that these kill scenes are this sequel’s main reason to be, like when they have Becky, a character who keeps losing her family to Nazis, tell us that she considers “killing ****stains” like Sean to be “a whole helluva lot of fun.” And in case you blink and miss this get-out-of-jail-free card rationale, you can also hear it repeated when Darryl asks Becky if she’s “Having fun?” “Wicked fun,” she says with spunky disdain.
It’s also probably telling that there are no Jewish characters in either “Becky” or “The Wrath of Becky.” There are some Black supporting characters, like Elena in “The Wrath of Becky,” but Darryl and his keyboard warriors don’t seem to be greatly concerned with anything too racist or antisemitic. They’re just a bunch of misogynist good ol’ boys who get their inevitable comeuppance from a teenage girl because, haha, even a high schooler could make hash of these guys! At least “Becky” features some credible backwoods heavies, led by a beefed-up Kevin James. Unfortunately, Scott often seems more peeved than angry in “The Wrath of Becky,” which makes his performance look more like stunt-casting than even James’ against-type work in “Becky.”
Darryl puts some mild dramatic pressure on Sean and his guys, who eventually reveal they inadvertently led Becky to Darryl’s cabin. But these guys are generally never so gross or hatefully stupid to make good punching bags.
The makers of “The Wrath of Becky” seem to recognize that there’s a line of good taste that Becky’s killing spree must cross, but they never really go there. Early on, Becky daydreams about killing the twerpy diner patron (John D. Hickman), who asks Becky to butter his toast for him. Becky’s creators cap off a bloody fantasy sequence with a tacky freeze frame and a voiceover aside that assures us, in Becky’s words, that “I didn’t actually do it.” As if there was ever a doubt.
Now playing in theaters.
Lulu Wilson as Becky
Seann William Scott as Darryl
Denise Burse as Elena
Courtney Gains as Twig
Matt Angel as Sean
Michael Sirow as Anthony
Aaron Dalla Villa as DJ
John D. Hickman as Steve