The “horror-comedy” is a flooded market with writers and directors trying to create the next Evil Dead or Shaun of the Dead. Then again, one could argue that the horror genre is a flooded market, but that may be a post for another time. What it comes down to is that there are plenty of films getting out out lacking quality or originality. Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil is a film that I was excited to see but still had plenty of reservations about it. I was afraid that there would be too many homages and that the film would just try to be every film before it, but thankfully I was wrong. So I sat down on Thursday with John Squires and booted up the Vudu store to rent TDVE. I would also like to comment on the excellence of Vudu at this moment, with its hard to find VODs and great picture quality (well done boys). Anyways, John and I sat down with some Pumpkin flavored coffee and watched one of the more enjoyable horror-comedies in recent years.
So where do I start with this plot…Well, there are these stereotypical college kids who are going away for the weekend to the mountains of West Virginia. They stop at a gas station and have an awkward encounter with both Tucker and Dale, two hillbillies who are actually sweeter than they appear. Tucker is the more intelligent and brainy of the two while Dale is moronic but in a sweet young-child way. The kids find their campsite and after telling a scary story about killer hillbillies (not Tucker & Dale), the students go to the lake for skinny dipping. The one girl, named Ally (Katrina Bowden), undresses at the top of a rock, right near Tucker & Dale who are fishing. Ally sees them and she loses her footing, falls, and hits her head, making her lose consciousness. Tucker & Dale pull her out and the other college kids believe she is being kidnapped by them (the scary story didn’t help) and they run away in fear. This misunderstanding of the hillbillies plays through the whole movie, as the kids try to rescue Ally from what they think is “Evil” (Tucker & Dale) but in doing so they wind up killing themselves in creative ways. Tucker & Dale don’t understand why the kids are dying either or why the kids keep trying to hurt them. I’ll post the trailer that better explains everything:
The problem that I find with most films like this, is that they have homage after homage thrown in to just get every horror fan to notice something. These kinds of films rely more of what has already been made rather than creating something entirely new. Tucker & Dale only takes the premise of the “killer hillbilly” but relies on its own jokes and own unique story line. I have heard people compare this to Shaun of the Dead and I can’t agree with them completely. Yes, it is a different and brand new take on the horror-comedy but it’s not as absurd as Shaun of the Dead or homage-esque. I do enjoy both films but they each have their own separate space to fill.
I was very surprised not only by the humorous dialogue and tight plot but I was also taken aback by how convincing both Tucker & Dale were. They are these lovable hillbillies who share with each other their own philosophies and PBR. The subtle bromance that transpires is adorable, and I know that’s not what should be said about a horror film but if you watch it, you’ll know what I mean. Never getting too serious with their relationship, the bubbly nature helps from allowing the film to get stuck in themes other than “fun”. I can’t say I enjoyed the performances of the college kids, except for the lovely Katrina Bowden. I know all the kids are supposed to be stereotypes of what you would normally see in a slasher film. You have the jock, the black guy, the slut, the nerd, and the alpha dog. Each person becomes forgettable and they don’t feel as genuine as Tucker & Dale do. The level of gore is great and as you can tell by the Red Band trailer, the kills are creative. The movie doesn’t weigh on those kills though, that’s kept to series like Final Destination.
I have only a few problems with this film but they don’t take away from the overall experience. Near the end, the movie switches gears just a bit and brings forth a villain-like character. This villain feels a bit contrived and the actor’s performance seems over-the-top for a film like this. The last part of the plot is still filled with enough gags and laughs to keep you interested but it doesn’t feel as natural say, as the first 70 minutes feels. I also didn’t appreciate the first couple of minutes of the of the movie either, it didn’t jive with the tone of Tucker & Dale. Other than that, there wasn’t much else to complain about.
If you didn’t know by now, I LOVED TDVE because it decided to do something different rather than rely on previous films. The only thing that TDVE wanted to do was entertain you and make you laugh till you fell out of your chair (figuratively). This film is the return to the horror-comedy, it’s what we have anxiously been waiting for, and it’s exactly what we needed. I can’t recommend this film enough to Horror fans, get out there and see it. Go on Vudu and rent it, do something to help support this movie. I had an absolute blast watching TDVE and I think John can agree with me on that. I am sure there will be people that will hate it but whatever, your loss. You can’t miss this film, it’s one of the best this year has to offer.