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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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!