Tucker and Dale vs. Evil

I should have known if a guy like me talked to a girl like you, somebody would end up dead.

This movie does one thing–it creates an ambiguous situation where one reading is a horror movie cliche and the other is ordinary.  Well, mostly ordinary.  Running a chainsaw through a hollow trunk and hitting a beehive probably counts as not run of the mill.  Speaking of run of the mill, [spoiler].

Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine) just want to fix up Tucker’s new vacation home (which looks like it used to be home to some people a little too interested in some 20 year old murders).  But this frat-tastic crew of college students immediately get the wrong idea about them.  Then, when one of their number, the hot and most level headed Alison (Katrina Bowden), gets taken (that is, saved) by Tucker and Dale, things start going crazy.  Trying to “rescue” Alison, the accident-prone troop just do themselves harm–serious harm–and attribute these self-inflicted horrors to our hillbilly heroes.

A movie like this can be bad, just fun, or something special.  Scary Movie (2000) was bad.  Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (2010) is just fun.  The concept creeps up on being special, but misses because its heroes are just so stupid and its villains are just too over the top.  The kernel from which this grew, I imagine, was that a couple of regular guys who look like hillbillies get into a situation where some crazy preppies think they’re killers when an accident happens in proximity to said hillbillies.  “Yeah,” the writer, Morgan Jurgenson, says, “and then things get out of hand when the hillbillies use their ordinary tools around the cabin and the preps think something terrible is happening.”  “Fan-freaking-tastic,” says writer/director, Eli Craig.

So there we are, we’ve got our wonderful premise of a horror movie turned, if not on its head, to one side.  Then things start going wrong.  Isn’t the whole idea that our characters are somewhat normal?  The only necessary exaggeration is that misunderstandings can get to the point where people will actually go Lord of the Flies on each other.  The Jack character, called Chad–if they wanted caricature, call him Chazz and be done–is actually insane.  I think they didn’t really have to worry about losing believability credits in having a less than insane alpha prep when you’ve got some kid jumping head first into a wood chipper.

The irony here, and that’s meta irony, is that their attempt to “turn the genre on its head” by making the hillbillies not serial killers ends up going directly back into right-side-up-genre by having our hero save the ingenue from the crazy guy who ties her to a bit of wood in a saw mill.  That’s kind of a spoiler, but this movie isn’t about plot, it’s about execution (so to speak).  This scene represents how the movie missed true excellence and went for something a little too contrived. You can make the preps distrust the assimilated Alison and put her in mortal peril, but this is just ridiculous.  Too far.  But it’s still funny.  And that’s totally enough, let’s be honest.

Oh, and it’s pretty gory.  I guess the wood chipper was a clue.

About Prof. Ratigan

A semi-lawyer and amateur enthusiast.
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