2020 saw the release of Becky, a home invasion film about a rebellious teenager going toe-to-toe with some escaped convicts. The movie achieved indie cult-level success, and recently a sequel has been released into the world, The Wrath of Becky. Now a few years older, Becky takes on a group of violent nationalists who have done her and her few remaining allies wrong. Directors Suzanne Coote and Matt Angel sat down with Tyler Geis of Borrowing Tape to discuss crafting a second film in what feels like a franchise that could spawn more sequels, as well as working with Becky herself (Lulu Wilson), watching Seann William Scott play the bad guy and the awesome feeling of making a movie where Nazi’s get their violent comeuppance.
Off-topic, I was going to wear my Read More Books, Punch Nazi shirt, but it's in the wash, so I couldn't wear it.
MA: We wouldn't have known it was dirty.
SC: Yeah, we couldn't smell it.
SC: We have a nine-month-old upstairs. I'm pretty sure there's hummus on me somewhere, so, like, we're good. You can wear anything.
All right, well, I got a one-month-old to sleep.
Thank you so much.
MA: All right, we'll shut up.
No, you guys are fine. You guys are fine. This is fun. Well, let me go with the next question here. The film stands alone real well, I thought.
MA: Thank you.
From the first Becky movie with respect to the first one as well. But did you two experience any challenges as directors coming in to do a sequel?
MA: I don't know. I would say the challenge in general of not being involved with an original and coming on board to do a sequel is part of what was so appealing to us as just giant film nerds. The first thing we really dove into was the research of watching our favorite sequels and identifying especially ones where it was different directors. Right. You look at Terminator Two or Aliens, like, identifying, okay, what did [James] Cameron do in these films where he established a new tone and he told an audience the story of the new version of a familiar character is what I always say.
Because character humans evolve, humans change. You're not dealing with the same human you saw in chapter one. So the first thing we did is researched our favorite sequels and had a lot of discussion of, like, what is it that made them so good? What did they do right? And then I think the second thing was watching sequels that we felt didn't accomplish that and identifying what was it that didn't work here. So I don't know that we found it challenging so much as it was the excitement of embracing the challenge because it's very easy to get it wrong.
Got you. Okay. That's a solid segue for a question I was going to save for the tail end, but I thought maybe I'd ask it right now. As for filmmaking inspiration, what are yours and did you bring any of that to this film?
SC: Yeah, I think my biggest inspiration is stylistically so different from this movie. So yes and no. My biggest inspiration is Michael Haneke, my favorite filmmaker. But in terms of I also have inspirations. Tarantino is also one of my favorite filmmakers. So specifically Tarantino, Edgar Wright. Who else?
MA: Guy Ritchie.
SC: Guy Ritchie.
MA:Kick-Ass was one, in particular, to really capture kind of the comic book-esque, oversaturated, color spectrum kind of feel of this, um, one movie I always reference, I think it's one of the most underrated Edgar Wright films is The World's End.And I reference it because what it did so brilliantly, and I don't think gets enough credit for, is it told the story of a tragic human being in a larger-than-life world that was so broad and comedic with alien blue blood robots.
But it was about an alcoholic who has, like, ended up in a horrible place in life and destroyed his friendships. And yet the movie is a comedy. It's an action horror comedy. And that was something I think, inspiration-wise, we looked at, and we were like, that's very important. It's very important that in the first act of this film, we are establishing a character that is human and has these roots in trauma, and is trying to deal with her past.
Once again, giving me a solid, good segue. I really enjoyed that for a film with an 83 minutes runtime, I thought you guys really nailed the first act with getting stuff together and progressing the story forward. Let's talk about where we find Becky in the first act of this movie.
SC: Yeah, that to us because we were thinking, okay, so when she's 13 in the first film, and now she's 16, those are three big years in life. So we also went realistically, she'd be put in the foster care system. Her family has been obliterated.
MA: Good word, sad word, strong word.
SC: Would Becky stay in the foster system? No, we don't think so. So that organically led us to see her leave the foster care, the foster home. Then we have intentionally have a credit sequence that tells us where she's been over the past three years. And then where would Becky land? Where would she end up? Does she look 16? Does she act 16? No.
MA: Who would she trust?
SC: Who would she trust? Would she want to stay with?
MA: We asked ourselves those questions, and it felt like they were very natural. It's a testament to the first film and the character they established. It felt like very natural, the answers came very naturally.
SC: Because she as a character is so strong.
Okay, so let's talk about Lulu Wilson and bringing her let me do that. Did you need to guide her a lot through scenes or because she's already played this role before? Did you just kind of let her go to town?
SC: We basically didn't have a job when it came to Lulu. Lulu Wilson is Becky.
MA: You don't have Becky without Lulu Wilson. So that was the easiest part of our job, is getting to talk to her through the writing process and make sure she was very happy with the progression of the character and that we kind of all saw eye to eye and collaborated on that part of it. And then once we were on set, it was her showing up and doing exactly what she does best. And yeah, she's fantastic to work with. And she so understands Becky. As she puts it. She was a first approached with Becky when she was eleven years old, and she's 17 now. So she's had this character. For nearly half of her life, and she gets her.
All right, let's talk about you two as co-directors, who kind of does more on set or in prep or any phase of the game. Is one of you more hands-on with actors and the other more focused on cinematography? How does your dynamic work?
SC: We do everything together. We're joined at the hip. We don't split anything up. We have, like, a belt.
MA: We tie our belt with our waist. She walks with her left leg. I use my right leg. No, it truly is a...
SC: We do as much as we can together.
MA: We do as much as we can together. Prep is everything for us. You don't have time on any movie set, let alone a small movie like this, to show up on the day and not know exactly what you're looking for.
SC: Yeah. So, like, for example, really quickly, if we call cut, we go, blah, blah, blah, blah. And then I will go say something to the actor. He'll go say something to the camera operator. We might go together, but we know exactly what we're going to say.
MA: We always tell during the interview process. One big thing we talk to our first ADs about is how they feel about the moment we call cut, allowing us the time to quickly (and thank God we share so much of the same creative sensibilities) look at each other and discuss what we want to address from one take to the next or one set up to the next.
And we hire the first AD that understands that time is crucial and going to save the production heaps of time. Because the alternative is we miscommunicate, things get miscommunicated, and now we're redoing stuff and reshooting stuff. Or not. And it's not the movie. It's not a cohesive film. I think the core to our working relationship, though, is a mutual respect and similar creative sensibilities.
The first Becky had a great casting choice in Kevin James, I thought. with your guys' installment, you bring in someone like Seann William Scott in a villain role. Just tell me, what was that like, directing him in that kind of performance?
SC: As a dream. It was literally a dream. He's so phenomenal and so understated in this movie and calculated, and it was really a collaboration with him and the character. Everything about this movie. Matt wrote the script in three weeks. We had three weeks of prep. Like, Seann was, I think, cast three weeks or two weeks before we started shooting. Everything was really fast, but you would have it was almost like everyone was destined to work. Everyone who worked on it.
MA: It was kismet.
SC: Yeah. Everyone who worked on this movie instantly got it, from the PA's to Sean. But Sean had such an understanding of the character and brought so much to the character. Like he brought his military background.
MA: Not Seann's military background.
SC: Sorry, the characters. Seann created the military background that is, in the movie.
MA: He elevated what was on the page to a level we never could have imagined. And one thing we give him so much credit for is in a film. Where, as filmmakers, we're trying to accomplish a broad satirical tone. You can't play in that playground unless you have someone like an antagonist who is grounded and calculated and comes from an intellectual place and plays it from that very real place because that gives you permission to let the characters and the situations around them be broader and bigger and at times ridiculous. If you don't have that in your central antagonist, you can't toe the line and earn those moments. And Seann William Scott gave us that gift.
That's awesome. No, I've always admired him when he's done other roles outside of obvious things, what he's been known for. So that's great to hear.
MA: He is so good. It's going to be really fun just to continue to watch his career flourish as he starts to hopefully get these opportunities to play things outside of just comedy because he's so good at comedy, but he's also proving that he's so good at drama.
Good to hear. As for the other Noblemen, in a weird way, I must say, phenomenal performances out of them. Talk to me about directing actors to play such awful people and casting these roles.
SC: Well, I don't know. I mean, great actors find the humanity in even the worst people and unfortunately, they have to embody these douchebags. And I know Matt played one of them and you did a great job. Aaron Dalla Villa plays DJ. And I know Aaron did so much research from the sign he does in the movie for White Pride, which I had no idea what that was.
MA: White power.
SC: White Power. Sorry. See, I don't even know. So yeah, working with them was a true joy. I mean, it was in Courtney Gains, I mean, come on. He's an icon in the horror community.
MA: I also think it was very our casting directors, Jenny Treadwell, Monica Kelly, did a wonderful job of making sure that they selected scenes for these actors where DJ... Anthony's a bit more of the hothead. But when you look at DJ and Twig. You know, they both have very, to Suzanne's point, very, like, human, raw moments that the audience is laughing at. But it's only working because their performances are so real and genuine. And shooting Twig's final moment, Courtney Gains' performance there was just like, he's truly on set crying when he's delivering that performance. But the words that are coming out of his mouth are so absurd.
And again, you're earning that because of the actor that's giving that performance and how they're rooting it in very human places. Same can be said for Aaron Dalla Villa, he has two of the biggest, many of the biggest laughs in the movie. But two of my favorite laughs in the movie that work every time are these two lines of dialogue that he delivers in his most emotional kind of hectic state. But they work because the guy's got tears in his eyes and he's genuinely terrified of the situation he's in. So I think it really was about finding those human moments and going, okay, if they can pull that off, they can pull the comedy off. And I think that's what they say, right? Comedy is the hardest thing. It really is. You have to be a great actor to land those moments and succeed in them.
Agreed. Yeah. So, last question here. I thought I'd throw it out there. And I understand how nondisclosure agreements work, but is there going to be a third Becky film at some point down the road?'
MA: We can officially, according to what we said at a Collider screening the other night, say, Yeah.
MA: The intention is Becky will return. We've been invited to the party. And what we can tell you is that we had every hope of coming back and we did nothing unintentionally or by accident in the Wrath of Becky, we had a very clear vision of what number three would be if we got to be a part of it. And so not only in the pointed setup in the final moments of this film but also kind of peppered throughout are moments that are very, very specifically hinting at what the third film will look like.
SC: Yeah, if fans go support the movie in theaters. We'll definitely have a third one.
MA: That's a big part of it, is, like, the better this film does, and the more word of mouth carries this film, I think the sooner we'll all get to see Becky come back.
Definitely. And I hope she does. Well, once again, guys, just congratulations on everything. Thank you. With whatever you guys got coming down the road, best of luck.
MA: Congrats on the newborn.
I actually misspoke. She's actually a year old. I don't know why I said I've said a month old.