The Wrath of Becky

The thriller Becky came out in June 2020, when traditional movie theaters were closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Independent Quiver Distribution shrewdly booked it at drive-ins, which were still operational. The film ended up being #1 at the nation’s box office for three weeks, given that there was virtually no competition. (On its debut weekend, it earned $209,000.) I despised Becky, calling it a “mean-spirited picture that purports to empower teen girls, yet seems to have contempt for them at the same time.” Three years later, we have a sequel, The Wrath of Becky. Thankfully, it’s a vast improvement over the original.

Lulu Wilson returns as the adolescent title character. She’s put into foster homes that she promptly sneaks out of. Eventually, she settles in with a kindly older woman, Elena (Denise Burse). Everything is fine and dandy until the arrival of the “Noble Men,” a white nationalist group whose local chapter is overseen by Darryl (Seann William Scott). One of them has snatched Becky’s dog, and when she finds out what else they have in store – namely an insurrection – she decides they must be stopped at all costs. Her previously developed skill at murdering neo-Nazis comes in very handy.

Aside from its suggestion that teen girls are hormonal lunatics, I disliked Becky for the way it improbably turned a young girl into a killing machine incapable of being stopped. The movie would have been improved from making her less immediately lethal and more awkward in her attempts. The Wrath of Becky doesn’t have to do all that set-up, rendering it free to reinvent the character as a vigilante from the start. Directors Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote set the tone properly in the opening scene, cluing us in that this is an exaggerated fantasy that won’t play it straight, as its predecessor did (for a while, at least).

Aside from that improved tone, Wilson feels more comfortable in the lead role. Her performance this time is sharper and funnier. In fact, there’s a lot of funny material in the picture, provided you have a dark sense of humor. Becky kills people in gloriously over-the-top ways that make you laugh at the same time that you squirm from their gruesomeness. Wilson sells these violent moments far better than before. To top it off, there’s a brilliant joke involving a baby name that made me crack up hard.

Underneath the dark comedy and outrageous violence, The Wrath of Becky has another factor that makes it appealing – a sense of anger toward white nationalist groups and insurrectionists. The Noble Men are obvious stand-ins for the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, and the idea that they’re planning an insurrection intentionally calls to mind January 6 at the Capitol. So many of us felt appalled by what occurred that day. We continue to feel disgusted at the increased presence of hate groups. The film offers catharsis by giving us fictional characters who are ripped from the headlines, then killing them with gusto.

That righteous anger fuels the story in a way that invokes a primal reaction. The Wrath of Becky is a B-movie that for 83 glorious minutes makes us feel as though justice will come to those who deserve it. Is it wrong to actively cheer the unpleasant fates of people who are not real? I don’t have the answer. I felt oddly uplifted when the film was over, though.

out of four

The Wrath of Becky is rated R for strong bloody violence and gore, pervasive language, and some sexual references. The running time is 1 hour and 23 minutes.