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What if all horror movie redneck killer stories were just big misunderstandings? I bet a lot of us would feel bad when the alleged antagonist bites it in the end, huh? No? Just me? Okay, then. However, it is a fun premise to think about. So fun, in fact, that someone made a movie out of it: “Tucker and Dale versus Evil.”
It begins like any other horror movie with drunken, stoned, idiot college kids heading into the woods with every intention of having sex, taking drugs, and….listening to whatever music college kids do nowadays. They meet EVERY SINGLE CLICHÉ of horror movies. There’s the strong woman, the bimbo, the token black guy, the stoner, the coward, and the “hero” of the group. Usually here’s where I’d say, “Let’s get to the murdering!” but there’s another aspect of the movie that comes along: actual characters we care about!
Enter Tucker and Dale, two rednecks who just bought their dream summer home in the middle of the woods. Woods, according to the local police, that contain nothing but pain and death. Is that police department funded by Stephen King? I bet their motto is “To strike fear and forebode.” After a brief encounter at a gas station between Tucker, Dale, and the college kids, which includes a clever little jab at classism and stereotypes, both groups are off. One group to party, the other to fix up their new cabin in the woods. (Somebody pay Joss Whedon his 25 cents for that.)
After tons of attempted foreshadowing, each disarmed by the characters (some in hilarious fashion), the movie continues on while we smile smugly. My favorite moment is the newspaper clippings of killers in the woods, and disappearing folks completely overlooked for a “Buy one, get two free chili dogs” coupon with no expiration. But what’s this? A horror movie this far in and no murders? Hold on. That’ll get fixed.
The would-be hero of the college group is related to someone who survived a group of killer hillbillies in those very woods. And he went back into the woods! You could strangle these kids with a cordless phone! As I’ve said before: Going into the woods is a bad idea, no matter the scenario. Now that we’ve established the characters and scenarios, let’s get to the action! Tucker and Dale go night fishing, while the college kids go skinny dipping. We should turn this into a drinking game: For every cliché, take a drink!
One of the college girls knocks herself out, and the two rednecks save her, trying to reunite her with her friends, but there’s that misunderstanding. The college kids think they were attempting to kill her. For collegegoers they aren’t very bright. Michigan State must’ve lowered the entry standards, again. While the kids regroup and brainstorm ideas on how to get their friend back, Tucker and Dale are left with an unconscious girl, and have to take her back to their cabin in the woods to recover. Played-up dramatic music and camera shots lead into possibly the best confrontation between a would-be killer and their victim ever caught on film.
Now we delve into character development, that’s actually kind of sweet and funny, but not for too long. Begin the murders! Bees and a chainsaw combination send both Dale and the college kids running and screaming into the woods, which gives us our first death. Hey! The black guy doesn’t die first! More misunderstandings! More gore! This includes a woodchipper, a pointy stick, and gravity. The reactions of all the characters involved in these scenes are gold. Plus, let’s hear it for practical effects!
A few more deaths, a gun safety lesson, and a shootout with a nail gun later, Dale gets captured by the college kids. More misunderstandings lead to hijinks and…tea…and…a sit-down to discuss emotions? Can’t say I saw that coming. Quick! More gore and murder! Ah. That’s better. A showdown between Tucker and the last college kid gives us our wrap-up, save for a few minutes at the end of the movie. And even those are hilarious. Sorry, folks, no spoilers here.
“Tucker and Dale versus Evil” is a horror comedy with awesome practical effects, hilarious performances, and twists on old, favorite clichés that are fresh and appealing to a newer audience as well as an old horror hound like myself. Check it out and get ready for some fun. But not in the woods. Never go in the woods. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more reviews!
Watch the trailer forTucker and Dale Vs. Evil