Movie Review ~ The Wrath of Becky

The Facts:

Synopsis: Becky has been living off the grid for two years. She then finds herself going toe to toe against the leader of a fascist organization on the eve of an organized attack.
Stars: Lulu Wilson, Seann William Scott, Denise Burse, Courtney Gains, Matt Angel, Michael Sirow, Aaron Dalla Villa, John D. Hickman
Director: Matt Angel & Suzanne Coote
Rated: R
Running Length: 83 minutes
TMMM Score: (7/10)
Review: Back in 2020, I gave two major thumbs down to Becky. While I found it to be an overall ugly film that played too deep into violence against the vulnerable, it nevertheless became a small cult hit and pleased enough critics and audiences to warrant a sequel three years later. Considering my little regard for the original, I wouldn’t have given much thought to going back for seconds. Still, something told me to give The Wrath of Becky a fair shake because sometimes, not often, a follow-up to an iffy beginning can be the true test of the potential for a franchise in the making.

My gut instinct was correct because The Wrath of Becky is a leaner, meaner experience that trades in the awkward bad taste of the first film for a cheeky revenge-pulp fun vibe that goes a long way to entertain. Led by a powerhouse performance from Lulu Wilson, returning as the titular character, and overseen by a new directing duo, it may lack the intense bite of its predecessor but lands on the appropriate skewed tone that was missing in the first bloody round. The result is a movie that barely stops to catch its breath, let alone allow its viewers to pause for a breather.

In the years following the horrific attack that left her orphaned, Becky (Wilson, Annabelle: Creation) has bounced in and out of foster families accompanied by her dog Diego. Never staying in one place too long, she acts the part of a dutiful ward of the state until the authorities are out of sight, and then she’s off and running again. When co-writers/directors Matt Angel & Suzanne Coote (Hypnotic) find her, she’s staying with elderly Elena (Denise Burse, Vacation Friends) and working at a roadside diner. The older adult prefers to keep to herself and doesn’t ask much about Becky’s life, a perfect set-up for the two that have pasts they don’t speak about.

Things might have gone along that way longer were it not for a trio of right-wing extremists rolling through town (and Becky’s diner) on their way to meet local leader Darryl (Seann William Scott, American Reunion) at his secluded lakeside cabin. Tough-as-nails waitress Becky doesn’t suffer these fools, and her disrespect angers them enough to pursue her, leading to a dramatic confrontation that finds Becky again forced first to defend herself and then enact deadly revenge on the men and anyone in her way.

Coote and Angel (who plays one of the more passive extremists) have wisely given The Wrath of Becky more layers, turning over several surprising stones along the way. That has to be why Wilson is also on board as an executive producer; she’s helping to shape this character into something more than what was originally on the page in the first film. This added depth pushes the sequel into territory that builds our heroine up but still doesn’t address Becky’s delight in bloodlust, though it’s less gleefully enacted here. 

The new members of the cast, Scott so perfect as the smarmy slick villain, Michael Sirow (Disturbing the Peace) as a nasty P.O.S. pursuing Becky, and veteran character actors Jill Larson (The Taking of Deborah Logan) and Courtney Gaines (Queen Bees) are all finely showcased in the brief runtime, showing that the directors capably can move their players around without losing their threads. I enjoyed Burse as a cranky bird that feels like a grown-up Becky staring back at her younger self. She’s sadly not in it as much as I would have liked, but when she’s on-screen with Wilson, the two share pleasant moments. 

A late-breaking appearance from indie tv and film horror genre favorite Kate Siegel (Gerald’s Game) hints that the world created by the two Becky films is about to get a little bigger, and based on this superior sequel, I’m back on board with finding out what’s next. Keep Wilson engaged with the material and treat the audience with respect, and this might turn into a small franchise that more people will discover in the third or fourth film. I still loathe recommending the original, but a double feature may be in order because it’s a building block for The Wrath of Becky.

THE WRATH OF BECKY will be exclusively in theaters
May 26, 2023. 

31 Days to Scare ~ Hypnotic (2021)


The Facts:

Synopsis: A young woman seeking self-improvement enlists the help of a renowned hypnotist but, after a handful of intense sessions, discovers unexpected and deadly consequences.

Stars: Kate Siegel, Jason O’Mara, Dulé Hill, Lucie Guest, Jaime M. Callica, Darien Martin, Luc Roderique

Director: Suzanne Coote and Matt Angel

Rated: NR

Running Length: 88 minutes

TMMM Score: (5/10)

Review: I spent way too much time during the new Netflix thriller Hypnotic wondering if leading actress Kate Siegel (The Haunting of Bly Manor) was wearing a wig.  Time I should have been spending focused on the story and characters, but the film tends to skimp in those areas to such a degree that I kept coming back to that darn wig. 

We’re supposed to understand at the beginning of the film that Siegel’s character Jenn is feeling lost in life, having suffered a miscarriage, separating from her fiancé (Jaime M. Callica), and just generally not knowing what direction her life isgoing in.  This manifests itself in her hair outwardly displaying the inner turmoil she’s experiencing.  After being introduced to handsome Dr. Collin Meade (Jason O’Mara, One for the Money) at a housewarming party and agreeing to a hypnotherapy session with him, Jenn starts to pull herself together.  After three months, her hair game is TRESemmé chic and she’s even warming to the idea of patching things up with her former flame. Then her phone rings and she wakes up hours later to…a bad situation.

Hair seems to be an important topic of Hypnotic…and not just in this review.  Another patient of the mysterious Dr. Meade has an issue with hair, and we’ll come to learn that three of Meade’s previous patients bear a striking resemblance to his late wife…and all have died under mysterious circumstances.  Guess who they all look like as well?  As Jenn’s close circle of support begins to dwindle under suspicious circumstances, she looks deeper into her hypnotist’s past and uncovers a danger she has little control over.  Enlisting the help of an already case-curious detective (Dulé Hill), Jenn will need to figure out the end game before the doctor can get close enough to exert his power.

It’s always a bit discouraging to see actors you like (Siegel has been so consistent in every project) struggle with substandard material and Hypnotic is very middle of the road stuff.  It’s well made and far above average in the casting department, but the whole thing has the whiff of a project everyone made just to keep the lights on at their home.  No one seems that invested in the outcome and that lack of true conviction winds up showing up across the board. 

Perhaps it’s because the script from Richard D’Ovidio is a little thin and a lot silly, putting the onus on the actors to fill in too many gaps in the narrative with some overly earnest theatrics that put them at risk for straying into overacting.  Or maybe directors Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote just never get the tone quite correct.  There are admittedly a few nice scenes, and one truly unsettling reveal of a hiding place but add it all up and it’s only halfway there.

I won’t use the power of suggestion to nudge you either way toward Hypnotic or not, but if the actors appeal to you and a B+ production of a C+ script sounds like your cup of tea for the evening then by all means, have at it.  Be warned though, you may find yourself getting sleepy…very sleepy.