Becky got a lot of attention online when its trailer debuted, thanks to the fact that comedian Kevin James is cast way against type as a neo-Nazi convict cult leader. That's really the only notable thing about the movie. Were some other actor cast in the part, this pedestrian thriller wouldn't generate a second thought. Such unusual casting may attract some viewers anyway. They'll likely be disappointed. Becky is bad, just not in a way that's any fun, and James neither embarrasses himself nor has an Uncut Gems moment like his pal Adam Sandler.

Lulu Wilson (Ouija: Origin of Evil) plays the title character, an emotionally troubled girl. Her mother passed away and her dad Jeff (Joel McHale) has just announced an intention to remarry his girlfriend Kayla (Amanda Brugel). Of course, she does not approve of this. Upon being told, Becky retreats to her fort in the woods behind the house. At this same time, a group of escaped convicts invade the home. They're led by Dominick (James), a burly bald guy with swastikas tattooed on his head.

The escapees are neo-Nazis looking for a key that's hidden somewhere inside the home. If you want to know what the key is for or how it got there, you're out of luck. It's a total MacGuffin, here only so that the plot has a reason to exist. Dominick and crew don't initially know Becky is outside, so she devises some deadly Home Alone-like traps to fight them. She's wicked with a ruler and art pencils.

Becky is largely a routine get-revenge-against-the-home-invaders thriller, not far removed from Wes Craven's Last House on the Left or a dozen other pictures of this sort. The twist, I suppose, is that the person fighting back is a teenage girl. That's kind of the problem with the film. Believing Becky might take action to defend herself is one thing. The film asks us, though, to believe that she turns into a ruthless killing machine, not just protecting herself against the intruders but slaying them in the most grisly ways possible.

The point is what? To suggest that adolescent girls are angry, nasty, and vindictive? If so, that's a strange message to send. Clearly, Becky has emotional issues, given her mother's passing and her father's pending remarriage. Does that automatically make her someone capable of plucking a guy's eye out, to the extent that he has to detach it by cutting the optic nerve? I think not, or at least the film doesn't do a good enough job of establishing that such rage is inside her.

Becky also comes complete with some hilariously bad dialogue and a cliched scene where the villain could kill the heroine but opts to give a monologue instead. As for James, he's just okay. Seeing him in this role feels like stunt casting. He smartly avoids the temptation to overplay the psychopathic character; at the same time, he never feels as menacing as he should. I give the actor credit for wanting to stretch, although it might have been wiser to find a slightly more dramatic role before trying to do a complete 180.

The actors aren't at fault here. They do what they can with bizarre material. Becky is mean-spirited picture that purports to empower teen girls, yet seems to have contempt for them at the same time.

out of four

Becky is rated R for strong bloody violence, grisly images, and language. The running time is 1 hour and 29 minutes.