I’m pretty sure I’m the last horror guy to watch “Tucker and Dale vs. Evil”, but in case I’m not, stay tuned. I had heard great things about this movie, but unlike so many other horror flicks these days, this one definitely delivered, although in a completely different way than I was expecting. To give everyone the same experience, all you need to know is this: Two friends go up to their newly acquired “vacation home” in the mountains to do some spring cleaning. At the same time, a group of college kids heads up to the mountains for a weekend of drinking and questionable decisions. Through a lot of misunderstanding and a series of very unfortunate events (for the college kids), the students come to the conclusion that our heroes, Tucker and Dale, are psychotic hillbilly serial killers out to get them. Hilarity ensues in what could be one of the more intelligent parodies on horror I have seen in a long time.
In reality, that is all that “Tucker and Dale” is; a parody. We see the classic ‘kids in the woods getting offed by a serial killer’ storyline, only told from the other side. The protagonists are a pair of lovable rednecks who have finally accomplished their dream and bought a vacation home. While to you and I the house they buy looks like a pyscho killer’s cabin, complete with antlers on the walls and jars for holding body parts, Tucker and Dale find it pleasant and quaint. Dale is fairly dumb and has very low self esteem, while Tucker is a bit smarter and ‘better with the ladies’. The whole misunderstanding starts when Tucker and Dale decide to go night fishing in the same lake the college kids decide to go skinny dipping in, unbeknownst to both parties. They startle Allison, the cute but sensible one of the college kids, and she falls into the water and is knocked unconscious. When Dale dives in to save her, the college kids finally notice the guys and think that they are dragging away Allison to rape and kill her. The rest of the movie follows as a comical sequence of gory slapstick in which the college kids and various other entrants are offed while the evidence against our main characters builds.
Writer/Director Eli Craig really hits the mark with his feature length debut. You know you’ve got a great film on your hands when all the artistic elements fit together to tell the story, and that is exactly what Craig has accomplished. The script itself is goofy and irreverent, but much of the satire of the film comes from slick direction, cheeky camera angles and a great score. The skilled set of actors certainly contribute, but the visual experience is really what drives the story.
Few films in recent years have been able to be both gory and funny at the same time. I’m not talking Piranha here, which was both gory and funny but at different times, I’m talking Dead Alive where you laughed as body parts went flying across the screen. I can’t remember ever giggling as a kid got impaled by a handmade spear before, but I did here. No, I’m not some sadist, it’s just that the situation is so amusing you can’t help but laugh. Same goes with a guy getting his head shot off. It shouldn’t be funny, but in “Tucker and Dale”, director Eli Craig made it humorous. On the more attractive side of “visual treats”, we get a lot of Katrina Bowden, which is about everything you need. There is a bit of gratuitous nudity in the skinny dipping scene, but seriously, we get Katrina Bowden in a tied up flannel shirt and cut off jeans so who cares.
Overall, “Tucker and Dale” is just a good, fun movie. You’ll laugh non-stop at the hilarious pratfalls, cringe at the over-the-top gore, and fall in love with the two wonderfully scripted leads. The movie is essentially a parody so the story isn’t beautiful or anything, but it keeps you involved and is very intelligent. Seeing the classic hillbilly killer movie from a redneck’s point of view is incredibly clever, and makes for a great movie. While it’s not going to get an Oscar nod, “Tucker and Dale” is the much needed horror comedy we have all been waiting for. Some of you were smart and saw it when it came out; I like to think I was savoring it by waiting this long. Really I was just depriving my self of one of the most entertaining horror movies of the 2000’s.