Horror News

‘The Wrath of Becky’ SXSW Review – Bigger, Bloodier Sequel Embraces the Silliness

Lulu Wilson tapped into a primal ferocity for her turn as the enraged teen taking down violent home intruders in 2020’s Becky. Its follow-up, The Wrath of Becky, reveals that the time passed between films hasn’t diminished the teen’s volatile rage in the slightest. Armed with John Wick-like motivation, Becky plunges into a new vengeful quest that provokes more violence, bloodletting, and a higher body count. This time a more well-rounded sense of humor offsets her wrath.

Writer/Directors Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote recalibrate the tone straightaway with a humorous reintroduction to the title character. It’s been two years since the events of the first film, and Becky’s been humoring foster families before quickly dodging them. Eventually, Becky and her loyal dog Diego get taken in by a kind older woman (Denise Burse), who never asks questions and isn’t phased by Becky’s survivalist training. The teen exhibits growth at her day job as a server at a local diner when her customers push her to the brink of murder. That changes when a trio of patrons, DJ (Aaron Dalla Villa), Sean (Matt Angel), and Anthony (Michael Sirow), follow Becky home and evoke her wrath with unforgivable acts of violence. That the trio of lowlifes is tied to a fascist organization plotting an insurrection means a high-stakes battle of wills ensues.

Whereas Becky struggled to endear its antihero to audiences thanks to unwavering, one-note rage, even against ruthless white supremacists, Wrath softens the teen’s rough edges just enough to imbue ample rooting interest. Angel and Coote embrace the silliness of the concept through over-the-top action-horror violence, absurd interactions, and a protagonist far more at home with her unrestrained anger. It’s the latter that’s most infectious this round; Wilson seems to be having a blast showing off the playful side of her young killer. The comedic antics also extend to the antagonists, led by Sean Williams Scott and Children of the Corn’s Courtney Gains as his right-hand henchman. The starker contrast between antihero and villains ensures that Wrath lands its aim in offering a more entertaining sequel.

Perhaps in doing so, however, the violence gets a bit more subdued. While Becky has a lot more fodder to stab, maim, and destroy with reckless abandon, the deaths themselves don’t stand out quite as much. While the blood spills freely, spraying its lead with thick coats of the red stuff, many kills come too quickly and easily compared to the crimes committed. On the one hand, Wrath’s brisk pacing ensures an easy, fun watch. Conversely, it occasionally feels like it’s pulling its punches.

The Wrath of Becky contains zero pretenses about what it is. An angry teen with no qualms about murder versus a group of fascists deserving of eradication has no subtext; it succeeds at earning your cheers at the precise moments and putting you on edge during suspenseful standoffs. Angel and Coote’s playful tonal shift becomes instrumental in the sequel’s success as an entertaining action-horror-comedy romp, and Wilson is more than game in taking Becky less seriously. It makes for an irreverently delightful time, even if it doesn’t deviate much from the original formula on a narrative level.

The Wrath of Becky made its World Premiere at SXSW. Release TBD.