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The Wrath of Becky Explained: The High Price of Revenge

Becky was one of the only positives about the summer of 2020 and lockdowns. The indie revenge thriller found an audience because it played at drive-ins across the country during the pandemic. Watching Lulu Wilson star as a 13-year-old who kicked Neo-Nazi butt was entertaining and just the type of escape we desperately needed at that time.

Wilson reprises her role in the savage sequel, The Wrath of Becky. This time, she faces off against a group called the Noble Men. Think the Proud Boys and January 6 insurrectionists. Like the first film, however, this latest isn’t all about a teenager wreaking havoc against white supremacists. Both films also deal with trauma and the price of revenge. The sequel handles those ideas just as well as the original while expanding upon Becky’s world and giving us quite the villain in ringleader Daryl Jr., played by Seann William Scott.

Becky: A Recap

The Wrath of Becky, directed by Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote, does a fairly good job recounting key moments from the first film. However, for those who don’t remember, here are the important plot points from the sequel’s predecessor. Becky goes on a weekend retreat with her father, Jeff, played by Joel McHale. Becky lost her mom to cancer, shown through various flashbacks. She’s none too happy that her dad attempts to move on and invites his new girlfriend Kayla (Amanda Brugel) and her kid, Ty (Isaiah Rockcliffe) to the lake house.

That’s not the worst of her problems, however. The cabin is quickly invaded by Neo-Nazi thugs who just busted out of jail, led by Dominick (Kevin James). They’re searching for a mysterious key that, for whatever reason, is hidden close to the lake house. The white supremacists kill Jeff, leaving Becky an orphan. Through her resourcefulness, she takes out one Neo-Nazi after the other in brutal fashion.

Some may recall the film’s gnarly and gory scenes, but it also explores trauma and the aftermath of revenge. Not only did Becky lose her mom, but also her father and even one of her two dogs. One of the Neo-Nazis, Apex (Robet Maillet,) warns her that killing “leaves stains,” and it’s not too late for her to avoid the guilt that he feels from all the people he killed. However, the ending hints that Becky is never going to be the same again. Que the sequel.

The Wrath of Becky’s Continued Exploration of Trauma

What both films do so well is balance a solid story with killer revenge sequences and lots and lots of blood. When the sequel opens, Becky is 16. She ran away from three foster homes and taught herself additional survival skills. She’s now living with an elderly Black woman, Elena, played by Denise Burse. For whatever reason, Elena picks up hitchhikers, hence how she met Becky. It’s clear from the get-go that the events of the first film and Becky’s profound losses had a grave impact on her. She also can’t sleep because she dreams of her mom in the hospital.

Elena and Becky share a bond because of their grief. Elena mentions losing her brothers to violence. Beyond that, she lost her mom while young, and her dad was a drunk. Yet, despite all of her woes, Elena learned to handle and manage her pain, something Becky has yet to do. She’s prone to violence, to the point she fantasizes about killing a customer who calls her a sweetheart at the diner where she works. As Apex said in the first film, killing indeed leaves stains. Like the original, there’s some absurdity to the bloodshed, including Becky’s fantasies, but a deeper truth about the way she handles all that she’s lost.

Elena is the sort of mentor that Becky needs, someone who encourages her to cool her rage. The back and forth between these two characters are some of the best moments in the film, a quiet contrast to all the violence. Burse offers a level-headed, sometimes quiet, but important performance, a counterbalance to Becky’s simmering rage.

Yet, this peaceful co-existence doesn’t last long. The Noble Men target Becky because she refuses to take their crap when they come into the diner while she’s working. They invade her home and kidnap her dog, Diego, who survived the first film. Don’t mess with this girl’s dog! Otherwise, you’ll face her wrath.

The Wrath of Becky’s Contemporary Villains

The first film had generally generic villains, though James’ performance was memorable. He was an intimidating baddie. This group of white supremacists feels much more contemporary. They plan to crash a townhall and assassinate a senator (Gabriella Piazza). The men also go on misogynist, xenophobic, and anti-immigrant diatribes, too. These are definitely Proud Boy stand-ins who certainly would have been in DC on January 6. One of them even quotes Trump’s now infamous “stand back, stand by” line.

Surprisingly, Sean William Scott does quite a good job as the ringleader, Daryl Jr., whose mom, Daryl Sr., is the mastermind behind the domestic terrorist cell. Unlike the other minions, there’s a sort of sophistication to Scott’s character. He manages to be frightening without raising his voice, and he avoids the cliche, far-right jargon of his goon squad. There’s one chilling scene in particular where he recounts killing someone with his bare hands while serving in Iraq. Seeing him go head-to-head with Becky makes for an entertaining and nail-biting romp.

That said, both films suffer a bit in the villain department. While Scott plays an unnerving bad guy, the rest of his crew is unforgettable. Horror fans will recognize Children of the Corn star Courtney Gains, but unfortunately, he’s not given that much to do, either. It’s not even clear why any of these guys would join the Noble Men and do something as extreme as murdering a senator. Other than Daryl Jr., the rest of the Noble Men come across as cardboard cutouts. You’ll be happy when Becky mows them down, so you don’t have to hear their cliched phrases anymore.

Becky’s Ending and the Hint of a Third Film

Without spoiling anything, let’s just say a third film seems likely. The last 10 minutes take quite the turn, while bringing everything back to the mysterious key from the first film. Perhaps we’ll finally know what that key is all about and why the Neo-Nazis wanted it so badly.

The Wrath of Becky is an engaging splatterfest. Wilson really grows into a take-no-prisoners anti-hero, and I’d love to see her kick more white supremacist butt in a third film. Yet, for all of its buckets of blood, The Wrath of Becky still explores and even expands upon the themes in the first film, namely the price of revenge and the way we process trauma. Beyond the slaughter, there’s something deeper here.

The Wrath of Becky opens in theaters on May 26.