A brutal home invasion horror thriller with Kevin James as a Neo-Nazi cult leader fighting a 13 year old? Seems perfectly in line for Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion, the directors behind such off the wall genre movies as Cooties and Bushwick. As you could tell from Timothy Rawles’s review of Becky we’re fans of this genre busting horror movie with a stellar cast. I was fortunate enough to talk with the directors and discuss the production.
Jacob Davison: So, starting things off, you both have worked together directing a number of movies. How did you meet, how did you get together?
Jonathan Milott + Cary Murnion: Yeah, we met back in school. We went to the Carson School Of Design together. We started off in design and animation and started a company together. In our free time we would do a lot of experiments and exploration of as many cool and fun things as we could while not getting paid. That led us to directing some short films and that got us into South By Southwest which then led to us directing feature films.
JD: How did you get involved with Becky?
JM + CM: Becky was actually brought to us by our managers and agents. They had a script and we really responded tot he script but we had a significant point of view on it. Which involved some changes. So, when we pitched it to the producers, we came at them with that idea that we loved the premise but we had some ideas that would really make it live up to that premise. We pitched that and they agreed with us and that allowed us the time for us to work with some other writers Ruckus [Skye] and Lane [Skye] to really get the script and the movie to where we thought was its full potential. From there we casted, and got it financed, and here we are.
JD: What would you say was the main thing that drew you to the project?
JM + CM: I think for us that really unique idea of a 13 year old girl in a revenge film. That was something we had never seen before. One of the ways we described the film was ultra violent Home Alone. I think that’s a fun way of giving a quick overview. But when you think about it, there aren’t too many films like it, there’s a lot of revenge films. There’s quite a few Home Alone like films or home invasion thrillers, but nothing quite like this. For us, it was to take all those disparate elements form all these other great movies we love and kind of combine them into this one really intense, violent, revenge thriller which as something that really appealed to us.
JD: On the violence. I wanted to talk about that, because I was really impressed! Like, the gore FX was really outstanding. I was impressed that a majority of it seemed to be practical. Can you talk about that?
JM + CM: That’s something that we’ve always loved with genre movies, what this kind of movie is. The real, visceral, tangible, bloody(laughter) gruesome FX. One of our favorite filmmakers [Quentin] Tarantino does so well. It just brings a level of realness to it that is just needed in this type of genre. You have to believe it. You can’t just have a bunch of fake CG blood squirting everywhere. You have to get that sense that the blood coming from the hand of the person is doing it, then spraying on their face. There’s just something with the level of CG at this point. I love watching some of the Star Wars films, the Marvel films, the quality of CG that they can do at that level is truly, truly impressive, awe inspiring and hopefully something they will get to play with. But, I think with a movie like this it just feels so much more intense when you have that on-set, sticky, gooey, (laughter) blood in your eye feeling.
JD: Speaking of, I cringed during ‘the eye’ scene. That was a good one!
JM + CM: Thank you!
JD: I wanted to talk a bit about the casting. The two leads, there’s Joel McHale and Kevin James who are primarily known for their comedy work. How did they get attached and what was it like working with them in such a different sort of role?
JM + CM: It was something we wanted to do from the start with casting both of those characters. We know we wanted to get a cult leader in the James character that was charismatic and intellectual and someone you would almost go have a beer with. Someone who seems friendly and you would just believe what he was saying. As the movie starts, he’s got to get into this house and he’s got to work his way in. We wanted that at the beginning. We wanted someone you could believe leads a lot of people and manipulate a lot of people. But, not he flipside we wanted to be shocking when he started his narcissistic, hateful ideological pitches that just blow you mind. I think coming out of a friendly face like Kevin James it’s all the more shocking and all the more strange. It really flips the viewer on their head, and the same with Joel’s character. He plays the father, and a lot of the time Joel McHale has played characters who are very ironic and almost always reaching for the joke, sarcastic in a way. So, you have him playing this individual who is sincere, who is kind of a flawed father just doing the best he can with his teenage girl. We just thought the were interesting subverting their typical roles and I’d say it paid off.
JD: I agree! It was quite a shocker. On the title role of Becky, how did Lulu Wilson become involved and what was it like working with her for this kind of role?
JM + CM: We had been following Lulu for awhile and the minute we got this script, we knew she had to be the one! She’s just one of the most talented young actors out there right now. From Ouija all the way to Sharp Objects. She’s just been blowing our minds because there’s a lot of good kid actors, but actors at her age who can really get that emotional range. Whether it be scared, terrified, angry, you know she could just do it all. And we saw that in some of her work before. She was pretty much the one we wanted right form the start and she was in. She loved the script form the start, so we were lucky that she was involved. Then in terms of when we got on set with her it was even better than we could imagine. Literally, the first day of shooting and probably the second shot we did with her, she had to do a reaction to a loved one getting attacked and let out a guttural, passionate scream! That’s where you could tell a great actor from a mediocre one. Someone who could really let out a scream and really shut down a set in terms of everybody looking at her with shock and surprise. With the amount of intensity that she brought to it especially at that age then turn around and be a happy go lucky kid the minute the camera stops rolling. But she just set the tone immediately that day and I think everyone knew that she was serious.
JD: Agreed! I just saw the movie on my laptop and that scream shook me. I’m sure if I hd seen it in theaters it would have blown me away. And on the title character, how would you describe Becky?
JM + CM: Well, I think Becky is a rebellious young teenager like most 13 year old girls, you know, there’s a bit of finding themselves. We look at this in a way of a coming of age film. And I think that’s an important part of it, that she’s going through some loss, she’s dealing with growing up, for us, that was an important part of the climax of the film was that what happened to the world today when their leaders, their parents and the world just is showing them certain way of being moral and ethical and we expect our kids to grow up to be a certain way. But they’re growing up in a world that maybe isn’t as morally and ethically pure as when we grew up. I think that’s something we wanted to explore, that the world that she lives in dictates the world that she ends up in at the end and I think that hopefully it’s bit surprising and that’ll make you think a little bit.
Becky is On Demand and Digital and at select drive-ins on June 5, 2020