Amidst the height of the pandemic and its subsequent horrors, at least there was Becky. Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion’s splatter thriller was a gleefully gory reprieve from the outside world, as well as a much needed middle-finger to the literal nazis who think they own it. Still, the notion of a sequel is bizarre; it was a wonderfully contained genre piece, not necessarily groundwork for something greater. It is likely only because of the surprising strength of its pandemic box office draw, as well as a memorably angsty turn from star Lulu Wilson, that we are getting The Wrath of Becky, a sequel that has all the makings of an explosive follow-up but winds up feeling even smaller than the original.
Becky’s storyline had just enough to actually function; the more appealing aspects were its committed performances and gruesome kills, all of which had enough personality to elevate it. The sequel takes a similar approach. Becky is back, now 16 and bouncing between foster homes before being taken in by a mysterious older woman and her dog, Diego. After provoking a group of misogynists at her diner job, the men break into her home in the middle of the night, kill her caretaker, and kidnap the dog. Fueled with a John Wick-level of rage, Becky pursues the men, only to learn that they are members of the Proud Boy-equivalent Noble Men, a terrorist group of emboldened women-haters planning a violent insurrection.
A lot of this political fervor may sound familiar, and that’s because it is. New directors Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote take no prisoners in drawing direct lines between the film’s characters and familiar figures and events in our current climate (one politician is a dead ringer for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, represented by a mannequin with a target on her head). It’s about as un-uncanny as the original, though this film makes far more jokes at their expense, making specific references to conservative hives like Parlor and 4chan. It is this unbridled spite toward a clear and present threat that initially makes Angel and Coote feel like natural successors for the Becky brand, including a similarly well-cast Seann William Scott as the Noble Men’s quietly unnerving leader.
In fact, the film has a lot of what Becky had: spunky quips, gory-for-the-love-of-it kills, and a fully realized performance from Lulu Wilson. It would almost feel like imitation if it weren’t for the fact that the story teases a far larger confrontation than the original. Toting countless deadly weapons and a long list of agents around the world, the Noble Men are a force of nature, far outnumbering Becky than the original’s gang of villains. Once Becky infiltrates the men’s cabin and lands her first kill (a kill so cleverly horrific that it may top anything from the original alone), everything points to a more chaotic, frenzied, Home Alone takedown of countless agro-douchenozzles. But we never get that.
It’s about halfway through the sequel that you realize The Wrath of Becky has no interest in expanding on the foundation set by the original, nor doing the work to heighten either the stakes of the story or the gratuity of the violence. For all that it does to recapture the original’s appeal, all it winds up doing is sitting in its shadow. The original had the element of surprise, yes, but it also felt like a chamber piece for the specific purpose of isolating its characters to create more interpersonal drama. Angel’s script is far more flimsy in this regard, making a majority of the interactions solely satisfying in how much we hate everybody, a far cry from emotional complexity.
By a similar metric, the kills don’t even feel as creative as they do in the original. For all of the audience’s pent up eagerness to see these scumbuckets kick the dust, The Wrath of Becky can’t muster up unique situations nor impressive practical effects beyond the first hour. To pour salt in the wound, the film thickly lays the groundwork for future installments with some of the most egregious sequelbait you’ll see this side of the independent scene. The idea of Becky becoming some long-running splatter franchise is a fun one in and of itself, but many of those become bigger and bolder with each new installment, sometimes to ridiculous results. Jason went to space, for god’s sake – can Becky not go up against more than five dudes and a vendetta? Let’s hope Becky 3 ups the kill count.
The Wrath of Becky is currently playing exclusively in theaters courtesy of Quiver Distribution.
‘The Wrath of Becky’ continues in the original’s stylistic footsteps, but doesn’t raise the stakes to earn a rinse-and-repeat execution.
Larry Fried is a filmmaker, writer, and podcaster based in New Jersey. He is the host and creator of the podcast “My Favorite Movie is…,” a podcast dedicated to helping filmmakers make somebody’s next favorite movie. He is also the Visual Content Manager for Special Olympics New Jersey, an organization dedicated to competition and training opportunities for athletes with intellectual disabilities across the Garden State.