Cinematic Nightmare Candy: Becky & Evil Dead Rise

Welcome to Cinematic Nightmare Candy. Providing your horror sweet tooth its (hopefully) terrifying fix.

For this Cinematic Nightmare Candy, I catch up with two films with festival origins, one from 2020 and one from this year. Each are fairly short, with their own flair and full of savage delights.

Becky (Jonathan Milott & Cary Murnion)

source: Quiver Distribution

With the sequel coming out soon, it seemed time to dig into this violent foray!

Becky (Lulu Wilson) is a stubborn, grieving teen who doesn’t make it easy for her father (Joel Mchale) when he takes her and their two dogs to a remote cabin to spend some quality time.

To make things worse, he doesn’t let Becky know when he invites his girlfriend Kayla (Amanda Brugel) and Kayla’s young son Ty (Isaiah Rockcliffe). What starts off as an awkward familial situation quickly turns dire, when the worst situation imaginable becomes a nightmare.

While relationship discord spikes, escaped convicts and white supremacists Dominick (Kevin James), Apex (Robert Maillet), Cole (Ryan McDonald), and Hammond (James McDougall), show up in search of a mysterious key. What the Key is or does remains a secret, but this group is willing to do whatever it takes to find it.

They take the family hostage, but Becky, having retreated to her childhood hideout, is on the loose. When she realizes what’s happening, the anger that she’s carefully held deep down is released in a fury of blood and vengeance.

In other words: don’t fuck with Becky.

The Key to Carnage

They underestimate the scrappy 13-year-old at every brutal turn, and she makes their mistakes, fatal.

Kevin James is quite convincing as the menacing lead villain. It’s a funny, vicious turn for the commonly portrayed family man. Their rapport makes for some interesting comedic moments and biting scenes of disarray. One in particular, with the cutting off of a dislocated eyeball, will have you squirm.

For its simple premise, Becky has a lot of meat on its bones. With elaborate kills and resourceful survival skills, this young badass doesn’t shy away from a cumulation of assaults. The fast pace bodes well as this home invasion premise becomes an intelligently written and vicious tale of vengeance.

Becky, is by no means a horror/thriller that lives in reality, or seems entirely original, but the revelry imbued in its core makes it a worthy watch.

Evil Dead Rises (Lee Cronin)

source: Warner Bros. Pictures

Evil Dead Rise, the newest of the franchise, hopes to connect a built-in fan base with new horror lovers. While it doesn’t quite reach the epic commune of horror and comedy as its predecessors, it has some fun and deliciously twisted shocks.

I admire what the film set out to do. It aims to carry the torch, but also add some new, gory flames.

This focuses more on family. Facing an upcoming eviction, Ellie (Alyssa Sutherland) and her three children are visited by her younger sister Beth (Lily Sullivan). Beth is a music technician who, after discovering she’s pregnant decides to visit.

Evil Dead Rise teases a cabin-lake story but instead settles into an apartment building that’s on the verge of being destroyed. The inhabitants come across a vault that contains some ancient, insidious text.

“I gotta kill the creepy crawlies that I got inside my tummy.”

Lee Cronin brings some new context to the story but doesn’t utilize it as much I had hoped. What transpires is an adrenaline rush, to be sure, and will undoubtedly please most looking for an onslaught of deaths and disturbing visuals. I admire the decision to shift the locale and I think it has shining elements that showcase creativity. If I separate myself from my love for the previous entries, I can appreciate this horror for its disturbing take.

Alyssa Sutherland‘s Ellie and her performance as the misery-loving deadite is one of my favorite aspects. She has some killer lines and distorted moves, which are increased by the limited space and isolated apartment floor.

There’s no shortage of chaos or kills, or blood. Some characters seem like fodder and don’t have much depth. While others garner more screen time, but still aren’t as fully fleshed out as one would hope. Flesh though, there’s plenty. It also features some throwbacks to the originals, including a voice cameo from Bruce Campbell and a showing of the versatility of a chainsaw.

If you have a weak stomach or are faint at heart, most likely you won’t be tuning in. It veers into disgusting as often as it can. While sadistic and amusing, pacing issues stifle some of the enjoyment of watching one of the worst family reunions on screen.

After an opening that effectively sets the tone, the film takes a few plotted steps back. The creepiness is shelved for gory exploits. A real misstep was the lack of the campy humor that the originals had in spades. There are moments of humor entwined with entrails and special effects, but it feels at odds with the other serious tones. The camera work is impressive, but even that is eventually ratcheted up to a frenzy.

Evil Dead Rises is a formidable yuck-fest which some tricks up its bloody sleeves, but it doesn’t quite nail the groovy nature of its predecessors.

Both are available digitally.

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