You’d be hard-pressed to come up with a more benign, vanilla, likable presence than Kevin James, star of the benign-vanilla-likable TV series “King of Queens” and movies such as “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry,” “Zookeeper,” “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” and “Grown-Ups.” I mean geez, Tim Conway had an edgier resume.
And yet from the moment in the insanely gory and darkly effective horror thriller “Becky” when we see James in a prison yard, with the long beard of a major league relief pitcher, a shaved head and swastika tattoos, we hesitate for all of five seconds before buying into his frighteningly effective performance as a stone-cold racist killer who will snap your neck as casually as you’d snap a twig if you’re standing in his way. It’s a ferocious and raw and even occasionally wickedly funny performance in a gory, blood-spattered, fever-dream take on “Home Alone.”
Quiver Distribution presents a film directed by Cary Murnion and Jonathan Milott and written by Nick Morris, Ruckus Skye and Lane Skye. Rated R (for strong bloody violence, grisly images, and language). Running time: 93 minutes. Available Friday on demand.
Let’s put it this way: We’ve seen more than a few movies with gross-out eyeball scenes, from “A Clockwork Orange” to “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” to “Die Hard 2” to “Minority Report” to “Kill Bill Volume 2” to “Un Chien Andalou.” In “Becky,” they take it to the next, cringe-inducing, horrifying wrong level.
Like many a horror movie, “Becky” kicks off with a family trip to the country. Joel McHale is Jeff, a widower who has his hands full with his adolescent daughter Becky (Lulu Wilson), who has been acting out at school and exhibiting disturbing behavior at home ever since her mother died. The amiable and utterly clueless Jeff waits until they’ve arrived at their lake house before telling Becky he’s invited his girlfriend Kayla (Amanda Brugel) and Kayla’s young son Ty (Isaiah Rockcliffe) to spend the weekend with them. They haven’t even unpacked before Becky goes ballistic and runs away to the makeshift “fort” in the woods where she used to hang out with Mom and draw and paint.
Enter the escaped convicts Dominick (Kevin James) and Apex (Robert Maillet) and their partners in crime Cole (Ryan McDonald) and Hammond (James McDougall), who show up at the lake house in search of a key that unlocks … well … something of great value to Dominick. They’ve already left a trail of bodies in their path, and they won’t hesitate to torture and kill Jeff, Kayla and Ty if that’s what it takes.
What they haven’t considered is the Becky Factor. At first they don’t even know she’s out there in the woods, and once they DO tangle with her, they continually underestimate Becky’s capacity for ingenious and sadistic revenge. This kid is like John McClane in “Die Hard” if McClane was a cute little girl who loves the taste of blood.
“Becky” is a deeply fractured fairy tale that leaves logic at the door and revels in elaborate set pieces that usually wind up with someone maimed or dead. Kevin James kills it, so to speak, as one of those self-absorbed villains who is prone to speech-making and fancies himself as some sort of next world prophet but is really nothing more than a psycho who’s spent a lot of time on the Internet. Lulu Wilson will give you chills as Becky, who can turn on the innocent charm when necessary but has a long, cold stare that makes us believe she was actually pleased to welcome a quartet of hardcore criminals to her world. They’ll never know what hit them.