Tucker & Dale vs. Evil review
|REVIEWS - MOVIES|
Get your banjos out, it's evil-bashing time...
Have you ever wondered how Deliverance would have gone if the Hillbillies had greeted Burt Reynolds and Co with a nice cup of tea rather than ‘squeal, Piggy, squeal’? If you have, then Tucker & Dale vs. Evil can provide the answer.
I began watching with some trepidation, as my initial viewing of the action-packed trailer had prepared me for disappointment, my concerns being that I’d already seen all the good bits and the rest would be unfunny filler. I’m pleased to say I was wrong. In spite of the hokey title, Tucker & Dale is a surprisingly witty parody with characters you find yourself hoping to see again.
Since the success of Scream and later Scary Movie, pastiche, parody and homage films have become the ‘in’ thing, to the point where everyone has become weary of seeing our favourite films ripped apart and sewn back together with little care for the original film or genre. Although Scary Movie was made with a fondness for the horror genre that was apparent throughout, the same cannot be said for atrocities like Epic Movie and Meet the Spartans. Scary Movie had some memorably funny moments and a plot (albeit stolen in full from I Know What You Did Last Summer); Epic Movie and Disaster Movie were simply a selection of films poked fun at in turn, barely raising a smile while doing so.
Thankfully, Eli Craig has put parody back where it belongs with his directorial film debut. The film is fresh, funny and surprisingly gentle considering the occasionally grisly content, and there were very few moments during the viewing when chuckles could not be heard throughout the theatre. The film does for Hillbilly Horrors what Scary Movie did for Slashers; makes you want to run out and re-watch all the back-woods, weirdo movies you can think of, perhaps imagining that Leatherface is a misunderstood teddy bear who was simply swinging his chainsaw to rid himself of annoying mosquitoes.
Tucker & Dale vs. Evil tells the tale of the titular rednecks who are visiting Tucker’s new ‘luxury’ holiday cabin in the woods of West Virginia. The men’s intimidating, 'wrong turn' appearance frightens some over-privileged, snooty college kids visiting the area, and when Dale and Tucker rescue one of their party, it is all too easy to assume murderous intentions on the part of the harmless hillbillies. A series of hilarious misunderstandings later, and each side believe they’re in a fight for their lives against a group of psychos.
As the college kids bravely do their best to rescue their friend from what they perceive to be a pair of murderous inbreds, they end up injuring themselves far more than either of their imagined enemies. The deaths themselves are great, gory fun - especially the hysterical moment when a frat boy decides to fight a wood-chipper.
What really makes this film, however, is the stars, Tyler Labine and Alan Tudyk, who play the horrified, soft-hearted rednecks to perfection. Labine is strangely touching as the awkward, bumbling outcast, and there were several ‘ahh’s in the theatre as he ran in and out of the dilapidated shack kitchen with various breakfast options for the injured teen. The backup cast isn’t half bad either, with Katrina Bowden delivering an unexpectedly sweet performance as the cute college girl stuck in the middle of the chaos.
The rest of the college kids are well cast morons, and fans of silly horror may recognise Chelan Simmons of ‘my fake breasts are on fire’ Final Destination 3 sun-bed fame, once again showing off her acting assets in all their glory. Jesse Moss is brilliant as the slightly unhinged Chad, and uses previous horror experience (Final Destination 3, Ginger Snaps) to play a ridiculous stereotype with conviction.
So, what’s wrong with it? The middle section of the film is a little slow, with too much talking and not enough action, but the film manages to keep up the pace fairly well considering the limited storyline options. The large cast of attractive teenagers ensures there’s always someone available to axe, burn or branch (watch and see).
There are no real surprises in the film; we are already peeking from between our fingers with expectation by the time the blood starts to fly. You laugh at the jokes a few seconds before the punch-lines and spot the genre perversions just before they happen. But this doesn’t really impact on the comedy, but in fact gives fans of the genre a comfortable feeling of ‘insider knowledge’.
This film won’t win any Oscars, but, to be frank, that wasn’t what it was made for. There is enough gore to satisfy a younger audience and sufficiently witty plays on the country yokel horror sub-genre to please more weathered fans of both horror and parody movies. Tucker & Dale vs. Evil is good, clean (sort of) fun, and a refreshing return to a field that badly needed a decent film.
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