Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tucker & Dale vs. Evil (2011)


Hillbillies Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine) are the proud owners of a dilapidated mountain cabin in the middle of the West Virginia woods.  It's a bit of a fixer-upper, but Tucker and Dale are excited nonetheless, and head out to their new 'vacation home' to make some much needed repairs.  Unfortunately, a group of obnoxious, preppy college kids decide to camp in the woods nearby, where they of course regale themselves with the tale of the Memorial Day massacre twenty years prior, when killer hillbillies brutally murdered a bunch of college kids in these very woods.  Through a series of misunderstandings that makes Three's Company look like a masterpiece of effective communication, the college kids mistake the harmless and bumbling Tucker and Dale for the murderous backwoods hillbillies, and they are determined to fight (perceived) fire with fire.  Humorous and deadly shenanigans ensue.

Allow me to say, right off the bat, that this movie is not for the faint of heart.  In the spirit of Shaun of the Dead blends traditional horror cliches with broad (and gory) comedy.  And much like Shaun of the Dead, there is more than enough blood and guts and violence to go around.  Granted, the violence is predictable (it is a well known corollary to 'Chekhov's gun' that you cannot include a wood chipper in a horror film without sending someone to meet his or her untimely end therein) and comedic--sort of an extreme and bloody slapstick--but it is violence nonetheless.  You have been warned.

The heart of the movie is relative unknown Tyler Labine (who really should be better known, as he's been working regularly in Hollywood for the past 10 years or more)--a big bear of a man, short on education, long on heart, and enamored of one of the college girls, who he's convinced is way out of his league.  At one point, he humbly observes 'I should have known if a guy like me talked to a girl like you, somebody would end up dead.'  I, for one, was rooting for this lovable guy to get the girl, which is not a reaction I usually have to horror film 'romances'.

Tudyk, ostensibly the smarter of the two, ably plays the straight man, as he is repeatedly (but non-fatally) injured over the course of the film.  The various college kids pretty much stand around and scream (when they're not busy jumping to unwarranted conclusions), but they do it well.  These sorts of characters are largely disposable, but many of them manage to be likable before their rather spectacular (and often accidentally self-inflicted) deaths.

There's an undercurrent of warmth and humanity running through the film--Labine's romantic misadventures are sweet and endearing, the 'moral' of the story is not to make sweeping, ignorant assumptions about people just because they come from a particular background, and the whole thing is a loving homage to the horror movie genre. For a horror movie, it's got heart.  And not just the literal kind, spewing blood from every ventricle.

All in all, it was a fun and creative spin on the usual horror movie schlock Hollywood cranks out.  It was a little gorier than I tend to like, but I still really enjoyed it. I wish the movie had gotten more press, because I have a feeling lots of people would have liked it . . . if they'd ever heard of it, that is.

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