Brandon Jay McLaren
Joseph Allan Sutherland
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Tucker and Dale vs Evil (2011)
19th Sep 11
A bunch of hillbillies are terrorized by some preppy college kids determined to ruin their fishing vacation.
Opening with a group of college kids heading to the mountains for a weekend of debauchery in a cabin in the woods, the premise to Tucker and Dale is one of the most clichéd in the world of horror cinema. The kids chat amongst themselves excitedly in the car, only to look out the window and see two rednecks in a truck overtaking them, staring at them open-mouthed as they do. At the next rest stop, one of the hillbillies comes over to talk to them, saying, "So, you guys are going to camp in the woods? Ha. Ha-ha. Mu-ha-ha-ha!!!" ...and then he laughs maniacally as they run back to their car and drive off. Then, on the first night at the cabin, they all go skinny dipping, until one of their friends disappear. Where is she? What's this, scrawled in to a bit of tree bark? We got your friend...
You might already be thinking you've seen this movie before. You haven't. Let me introduce Tucker and Dale, two likeable and harmless hillbillies heading up to their vacation cabin in the woods for a bit of relaxing fishing. They pass the peppy college kids on the road and are amazed - you don't see those kind of kids in these parts often. At the rest stop Dale (the chubby shy one) expresses his admiration for the blonde of the group and Tucker (the slightly smarter one) talks him in to going over to them to strike up a conversation. He also tells him to laugh too, it shows confidence, but Dale goes a bit far.
Then they go for a bit of harmless midnight fishing, only to be disturbed by the young group stripping off for a late night swim. Like what most people would do (don't say you wouldn't) they keep very quiet and watch, only to witness the blonde girl slip on a rock, hit her head and fall in to the river. So they rescue her and, with none of her friends around, take her back to their cabin, leaving a note carved on a log...
And so begins one of the most original horror comedies in recent years. You may well have clicked now that the basic premise is that hillbillies on this occassion are harmless, nice people, but a series of simple misunderstandings mean they're misconstrued as redneck killer nutjobs. They spend the movie watching the rest of the teens trying to "save" their friend, but in the process they keep accidentally killing themselves right in front of our hapless heroes, in sometimes quite gory ways.
This sounds like a concept that you might think is never going to stretch to a 90 minute film, and you'd be right, if it weren't for a few factors. Firstly, the script is mostly excellent with a lot of good, funny dialogue that the actors seem to have no trouble sticking too. Secondly, Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine excel as our leads - Tudyk is an excellent comic actor (you just need to watch his witty pilot twist in Firefly or Serenity to see that) who has loads of fun here, and Labine is an upcoming talent who we last saw playing the scene stealing 'Sock' in the much better than people think cancelled TV show Reaper. They play the rednecks with simple, likeable authenticity. Thirdly, the direction is assured and sensible with the physical comedy scenes being just as memorable as the verbal - and why take risks when you know the script is good and the actors can look after themselves?
Okay, you could argue that the final third act, with Chad the vengeful teen going pyscho on them, turning the tables, is perhaps a bit of a stretch but Jesse Moss, who plays Chad, has great fun playing the unhinged alpha male jock and because of that it works too, and the healthy 89 minutes of runtime fly by. In fact, while this isn't perhaps a horror comedy classic up there with the Shaun of the Dead, Braindead or Evil Dead II's of this world, it is one of the best horror comedies of recent years, and will more than likely be remembered as a cult classic in years to come.
With the beloved genre of ours currently reeling from the torture-porn boom and flooded with no-budget grindhouse rip-offs and bad, cheap-as-chips zombie movies, this is a breath of fresh air. And if you can see past the laughs and the gore, real horror fans out there might have a lot fun picking up all the deliberate references to well known horror classics. All in all a must see.