The Wrath of Becky: Exclusive Interview with Directors Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote

The Wrath of Becky: Exclusive Interview with Directors Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote

People who have endured traumatizing experiences, especially during their childhood or adolescence, need to find their catharsis somewhere, even in the most shocking places. That’s certainly the case for the titular 16-year-oldprotagonist of the new action horror comedy, The Wrath of Becky, which serves as the follow-up to the acclaimed 2020 crime feature, Becky.

Actress Lulu Wilson steps back into her celebrated role of the eponymous teen, who’s still contending with her anger management issues from the events that occurred in the original film several years earlier. Like all great sequels, The Wrath of Becky builds upon what made its predecessor successful, while also establishing new details of a familiar character, and subverting the expectations of the first movie’s viewers. Becky has become a symbolic vigilante who’s determined to destroy some of the darkness in her world on her continued quest for justice.

Set a few years after the titular character escaped a violent attack on her family, The Wrath of Becky follows her as she attempts to rebuild her life in the care of an older woman – a kindred spirit named Elena (Denise Burse). But when a group known as the Noble Men break into their home, attack them, and take her beloved dog, Diego, Becky must return to her old ways to protect herself and her loved ones.

In addition to Wilson, the sequel also stars Seann William Scott, Denise Burse, Jill Larson, Courtney Gains, Michael Sirow, Aaron Dalla Villa, Matt Angel and Kate Siegel. Franchise newcomers Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote, who are married, directed The Wrath of Becky, which Angel wrote, based on a story he created with Coote.

Angel and Coote generously took the time earlier this month to talk about penning and helming The Wrath of Becky during an exclusive interview over Zoom. The duo spoke about making the thriller to help promote its release this weekend.

Q: Together, you created the story for the new action horror comedy, The Wrath of Becky, which serves as the sequel to the 2020 film, Becky. What inspired you both to sign on to create the plotline for the new follow-up? Matt, how did you approach writing the script?

MA: We had met the team at BoulderLight (Pictures, which served as one of the production companies on The Wrath of Becky) back in 2019, and we really loved their passion for filmmaking. We had tried for a number of years to find a project that aligned with both of our interests.

They came to us at the end of 2021. They asked, “Would you be interested in doing a sequel to that film we did back in 2020 with Kevin James and Lulu Wilson called Becky?”

The appeal to say yes was that when Becky was shooting, we were actually neighbors with Lulu Wilson. We’re also fans of her work in so many things, like Mike Flanagan content in particular (including the 2016 films Ouija: Origin of Evil and Doctor Strange). So the idea of working with the team at BoulderLight, as well as with Lulu Wilson, was very appealing to us.

Then we dove into the project in terms of Becky as a film. we challenged ourselves on how we would approach coming on board for the sequel, since we had nothing to do with the first film. We also looked at how some of our favorite filmmakers have done that with sequels.

We also thought about where we would take this character of Becky in a way that would hopefully satisfy the fans of the original film, while simultaneously bringing in a new audience to the world of Becky. I think that challenge was very appealing to us.

Q: Like you mentioned, you wanted the sequel to build upon what made its predecessor successful, while also simultaneously bringing new fans into the series. With The Wrath of Becky, how did you approach honoring the original film, while also infusing the eponymous character and the overall story with new elements?

SC: That was very important to us, as there’s a reason why we didn’t call the film Becky 2. It should stand-alone if you haven’t seen the first film. But if you have seen the first film, hopefully you also like this one.

We wanted to change the tone of this film and make it a little funnier and have more action. With the bad guys, who we call the Noble Men but are inspired by The Proud Boys, are very real.

The film is satire, but we wanted the Noble Men to be our antagonists. But since they’re so awful and real right now, you also have to make the viewing experience enjoyable. So we had to infuse it with comedy.

MA: That would also be my answer. We knew from the outset that the natural progression of the antagonists had to be from fascists to white supremacists. Once we settled on that natural progression of the antagonists, we also knew that we had to make the film satirical.

Going back to the visuals, I think it evolved into more of a comic book-esque film. This one’s much more saturated.

SC: Yes, she’s in a bright red jumpsuit.

But there were also some things that were important to stay true to from the first film, like Becky’s overall character, including the way that she talks and acts. We also wanted to bring in important story pieces from the first film, like the key, and of course not answering it because we want to string you along.

We also wanted to bring in fan favorites, like Diego. When they first asked us if we wanted to do the sequel, we said we of course wanted to bring the dog. Working with animals on films isn’t always easy, but we were lucky to have him.

Q: After developing the new movie’s story together, you went on to direct the film as a duo. How did creating the plot together influence the way you approached helming the thriller together?

SC: It was great. We’re married in real life and have a baby together.

MA: When we were shooting, Suzanne was in her third trimester. This is our third film together, but it was a very unique experience in that this was a low-budget film.

It was also incredibly ambitious with a minor in the lead role, as well as animals, weapons, practical blood effects and a lot of special effects. There were also an ensemble cast and a lot of characters in a few scenes, as well as stunts. So there were a lot of moving parts

It was an incredible, and so far our favorite, experience behind the camera in our careers. We had an incredible group of people around us, and we all became so close. Everyone was so passionate in what they were doing, and it was a labor of love across the board.

But it was also incredibly challenging across the board. Our first AD (Assistant Director), Alex Burstein, has a few gray hairs…But we all love working together.

Q: Like you mentioned, in The Wrath of Becky, Lulu Wilson reprises her titular role from its predecessor. The follow-up also stars a new ensemble cast of supporting actors, including Seann William Scott, Courtney Gains, Denise Burse, Jill Larson and Kate Siegel. What was the casting process like for the new comedy?

SC: That’s a good question, especially as it pertains to the Noble Men. We wanted each of them to be very specific…We opened up our casting call to local New York and New Jersey talent.

MA: We found some unbelievable talent.

SC: We had Courtney Gains from The ‘Burbs and Children of the Corn play Twig.

MA: To have someone with that resume in horror work come and do a genre film with us, and show up and give his all as the character of Twig, made us feel so lucky. It was so fun to watch him work. People love his character.

SC: Seann William Scott blew us out of the water. We knew when we spoke to him for the first time that he would do that, and he did  do that when we started filming.

MA: Aaron Dalla Villa, who plays DJ, is a star.

SC: Keep your eye on him.

MA: Yes, keep your eye on him.

I also have to mention the two female supporting leads, Denise Burse and Jill Larson. They came in for this project and blew us away with their reads. We got a slew of tapes for these roles, and both of them were the only ones we considered for the parts when we saw their tapes.

MA: Then, of course, we also have Kate Siegel in a fun cameo in the end. Getting someone like her on board was such a treat.

Q: Once the actors signed on to appear in the film, how did you approach working with them to create their characters?

MA: It was just a dream. Everyone showed up, ready to give it their all, and were very committed to their characters and were very prepared.

It was so fun. When I reflect on it and really think about Denise Burse and what she brought to her character of Elena, it still makes me happy. With Jill Larson, it’s hard to take your eyes off of her and what she’s doing.

Also getting to direct the actors who play the Noble Men was amazing. Hearing these great actors speak the words that you created, and also infuse their own personalities into their characters, was a dream.

Q: A majority of The Wrath of Becky‘s story takes place in and around the house of Seann William Scott’s character of Darryl. How did you approach working with the film’s Production Designer, Allie Leone, to create Darryl’s home?

SC: About 99 percent of the movie takes place during the day. So it was important to us, as it pertains to Darryl’s house, to differentiate the landscape Becky was running around in.

So she was in the bright red jumpsuit, while the sky was blue and the grass was green. We heavily leaned into primary colors. So when we were inside with the Noble Men, we wanted it to be dark, including dark browns and greens.

MA: We played around with the color spectrum with the characters.

SC: Our location manager found this house, and we thought it was incredible.

MA: I think this movie is a far lesser film without that location, and we knew that going in. It was very important to us to find a location that was stunning.

SC: Our production designer, Allie Leone, took this beautiful house and somehow made it better.

MA: It’s always key to us to work hand-in-hand with our cinematographer and production designer (Julia Swain and Leone). That way we’re fusing those departments, and doing what we can to make the most out of the locations that we have, especially on independent films.

SC: In particular, we wanted to do that with the shot that introduces Seann William Scott in the movie. Allie and Julia had to work together to build a table that fitted the camera in the middle of the table. Then Julia was able to pull out of a shot on Lulu, then pan around all of the Noble Men, and then finally land on Seann William Scott.

That’s a lot of time and resources to do that for one shot on a low-budget film. But from the producers down to the PAs (Production Assistants), everyone made it happen.

The Wrath of Becky is now playing exclusively in theaters, courtesy of Quiver Distribution. The movie’s theatrical release comes after it had its World Premiere in March during the Midnighters screening section of SXSW.

Check out more of Karen Benardello’s articles.

Here’s the trailer of the film.

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