10.12.2011

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil: Super Funny, Extra Bloody

An outstanding horror comedy that fully delivers on its hilarious premise.

Heading into the Varsity Theatre in Seattle's University District, I was happy to see that my husband and I weren't the only ones who felt like a horror comedy starring Firefly's Wash was a good idea on a Monday night. Of course, I wonder what all of the moviegoers thought of my husband and I's guttural laughter, as the charming tale of Tucker and Dale unfolded.

Heading to their fixer-upper vacation home, Tucker and Dale run into a group of good-looking college kids who misread the hillbilly pair as murderous backwoods freaks. After Dale saves one of the girls from drowning and brings her back to his cabin to recover, her friends believe that she has been kidnapped. What ensues is a series of misconceptions, as the dim-witted college students end up doing more harm to themselves than to the hillbilly's they are trying to rescue their friend from.
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Basically, we have a reverse hillbilly horror story that plays on stereotypes. Tucker and Dale turns this horror sub-genre on its head with ease, while providing plenty of gore and laughs. These kids don't just trip and fall off cliffs, they somehow find ways to die horribly painful and grotesque deaths all by their own hands. In fact, I'd say Tucker and Dale has the best use of a wood chipper in film history. Yes, it even beats Fargo.

Most importantly, Tucker and Dale stands out as a brilliant horror comedy because of one reason: the story is told with good characters. Even in its short 89 minute run time, it takes plenty of time to develop Dale, its central character. As an audience member, you truly want Dale to succeed in romancing the pretty, sophisticated college girl. Without setting up Dale as an empathetic character, it wouldn't nearly be as funny when he is accused of being a vicious psychopath and it wouldn't nearly be as interesting to watch him fail at explaining himself to others. In the vein of Shaun of the Dead, Tucker and Dale creates strong characters in a world of comedic situations.

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Thematically, Tucker and Dale also brings out some intriguing discussion on what it means to be intelligent, sophisticated, and open-minded. The moral of this horror story is that being judgmental leads to a hideous death. While it is a common theme in horror films for a group of "normal" teenagers to judge an outcast, it is uncommon for that outcast to actually turn out to be the sympathetic character. Instead, this outcast falls into those judgements and takes revenge, becoming the film's villain. In Tucker and Dale, the outcasts are never once the villains.

You don't have to read much into Tucker and Dale vs. Evil as you watch it. Though it provides some nice color, it is still entirely watchable as a comedic gorefest. If it happens to be playing in a theatre near you, by all means check it out and bring your hillbilly friends!

2 comments:

  1. Best horror comedy of the year. The ending is a bit ridiculous but Tudyk and Lapine work awesomely.

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  2. The film was completely not what I was expecting. It was funny to have the conventions turned and the kids being the ones that had a hand in their own undoing. So wicked funny.

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