Tucker and Dale vs Evil
I’m generally not a fan of horror movies, but I’ve seen my share of them. One reason why I’m not a fan is that they tend to be the same movie over and over again. I’m a big fan of originality, and as of today, I’m also a big fan of Tucker and Dale vs Evil. This movie has been floating around the top of my Netflix suggestions for a while now, and I finally took the chance to see it. It was fantastic.
Taking on the conventions of the “crazed redneck” strain of slasher horror movies, this 2010 independent release takes every trope and convention of the genre and subverts them all masterfully. It posits, that maybe the scythe-toting redneck that maniacally laughs at the college kids on their way to a camping trip isn’t a deranged killer, but is in-fact a friendly, but socially awkward guy trying in vein to strike up a conversation while on his way to clean up his new cabin? And maybe later, that other redneck that comes charging at the kids screaming and wildly swinging a chainsaw doesn’t even know that they’re there, but just accidentally sawed into a beehive while cutting wood. There’s a lot of room for humor in this genre, and this movie makes the most of it, managing to find all kinds of humor, while also taking itself just seriously enough to have some real character development, and even some real dramatic tension.
The film stars Tyler Labine as Dale and Alan Tudyk as Tucker, a couple of friendly down-to-earth rednecks who are super-excited to be the new owners of a “vacation home,” in reality a run-down cabin in the backwoods. Their good times are interrupted by a group of college kids on a camping trip. Immediately upon setting up camp, Chad (Jesse Moss), one of the guys in the group, relates a story of a horrific redneck massacre (that happened on the very site where they’re camping.) Then he makes a creepy pass at the lovely Allison (Katrina Bowden), then the whole gang decides to go skinny-dipping.
Of course. Things get interesting when a partially-disrobed Allison sees Tucker and Dale (who were just out fishing) slips, hits her head, and falls into the water. Fortunately Tucker and Dale are there to rescue her, but when the rest of the kids see their friend being pulled into their boat, they assume she’s been kidnapped by crazed rednecks. I’ll say no more about the plot, but things pretty much go to hell from there, but the hilarity is flowing along with copious amounts of cinematic blood.
Labine and Tudyk are utterly fantastic as a couple of regular guys who find themselves in the center of an increasingly insane situation. I’d never seen Labine in anything before, but he brings some genuine pathos to Dale, revealing a well-meaning and intelligent character afflicted by an almost crippling lack of self-confidence. Tudyk is, of course, always outstanding, but on reflection I’m amazed at his ability to create a character, as Tucker’s laid-back, confidant working man is just about the polar opposite from the uptight, neurotic lawyer turned hallucinating out loony he was playing the last time I saw him. In both cases, he manages to really bring genuine heart to the role.
Katrina Bowden actually impressed me. She is, of course, impossibly attractive, but in this movie she actually gets a chance to act, as well. I’m not saying she should be winning an Oscar or anything, but she did succeed in making Allison a character I actually could care about. It would have been easy for her character to be nothing but a talking MacGuffin, required to do nothing more than look pretty and provide occasional exposition, but she does more than that, creating a character that actually seems like a real person rather than a plastic movie damsel.
Once again I’ve found myself a little bit up in the air when trying to rate this movie. It’s certainly well worth seeing, but the more I think about it I think it’s better than that. It occurs to me that I could gladly sit down and watch this again tomorrow, and that I almost will watch it several more times over the next few years. It’s clever. It’s funny. It parodies a genre while still respecting itself, the core cast is fantastic, and it’s actually got a lot of heart. As much as I wasn’t expecting to say so when I sat down to watch it, Tucker and Dale vs Evil is a must see.