The Austin Chronicle

Killing Nazis for Funsies in The Wrath of Becky

By Richard Whittaker, March 11, 2023, 6:00am, SXSW

When teenager-versus-Nazis gory romp Becky dropped in cinemas and kicked in skinhead chromedomes in 2020, it was one of the first quiet success stories of the pandemic - and laid out a puzzle for a sequel.

The question: what is unlocked by the mysterious key sought by the scumbags who unwisely invaded the home of Becky (Lulu Wilson)?

That was a question that filmmakers Matt Angel and Suzanne Coot had on the brain when they were asked to make the sequel, The Wrath of Becky, which receives its world premiere tonight at the South by Southwest Film and Television Festival. It was December 16, 2021, Angel recalled, "and I remember that because (producer) J.D. Lifshitz said, 'You wouldn't be interested in doing a small sequel to the 2020 film, Becky, would you?'"

The pair were fresh off The Open House for Netflix, and Coote was in her first trimester ("I couldn't stop wanting to throw up in everything I see"), so they decided that a fun, light project would be perfect. Angel said, "We talked about it and said. "yeah, let's do it, it sounds like fun.' And he goes, 'Cool. We don't have a script, we want you to write it, and we need it in three weeks."

So they broke down the story in a day, and Angel sat down to write the script. "I failed my three-week test," he said, "but I handed in my first draft in three and a half week."

The pair had one embarrassing confession. They didn't actually see the first film until that first conversation with Lifshitz. But that's embarrassing for an unexpected reason. Angel said, "Lulu, we had known for years, and she was actually our neighbor in Studio City. She was like, 'Oh, I'm going to shoot this movie,' and we're like, "oh, how fun,' and we couldn't wait to work with her on something."

"I can't believe we're such bad friends," said Coote. Fortunately, she'd told Angel that they needed to watch Becky before signing on. So that very night, Dec. 16, 2021, they finally watched their neighbor's work. She said, "We knew we'd like it because it's right up our alley, and then we watch it and go, 'Yes, we'll do the sequel.'"

For Angel, who grew up on gory comedies like Tremors, both Becky and The Wrath of Becky fit in with the new trend of bloody satires like The Boys, Violent Night and Cocaine Bear "where you're simultaneously cracking up whilst saying 'Oh my god' at the gore."

“We need fun," said Coote, "and there's nothing more fun than a 16-year-old girl killing people." Especially Nazis. "Yeah. Killing people, you'd be like, 'Hm,' but killing Nazis? That's fantastic."

And what Nazis there are for killing. In the first film, Kevin James turned in a surprisingly brutal and measured turn as the head of a fascist gang - but the whole "killing Nazis" thing pretty much ensure he would not be back for the sequel. So the hunt was on for "a worthy adversary for Becky," Angel said, and they found that in Sean William Scott as Darryl, a much icier, considered menace. "One thing we knew was that we wanted to continue this tradition of great comedic actors that have incredible dramatic chops that maybe haven't had the world appreciate them," Angel added. "His take on the character and what was implemented into the script when he came on board, I really give him all credit. He really turned him into a dark force, when he could have been too light."

Making the villains neo-Nazis is also undeniably timely, and Angel and Coote did their research on right-wing message boards. Angel said, "I can tell you within 10 minutes you can tell how how dangerous and scary these people can be."

"How scary they are," Coote clarified. "We couldn't put exactly what we read in the script. It was too much." That's why they made Daryll "a calmer, cooler version of Kevin James' character. Someone who's totally control until Becky comes along."

But hold up. What about that key?

Coote explained that the producers at BoulderLight gave them free rein to enact whatever kind of mayhem they liked, with one proviso: they had to bring the key back. "The original opening I wrote for the second one totally wrapped up the key," Angel said, but they quickly realized that wasn't going to be much fun, so they threw that opening out. "We made the decision: let's make it kind of a gag that the audience doesn't have an idea what they key is, and we're going to tease what it is. ... It's more of a symbolic element of what it represents in Becky's life, in terms of the trauma from the first film."

The Wrath of Becky

Midnighters, World Premiere

Sat 11, 10:30pm, Alamo Lamar D
Tue 14, 8:15pm, Stateside
Wed 15, 10:30pm, Alamo Lamar D

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