Who doesn't love a good slasher flick? A mismatched group of teens in the woods, unwashed hillbillies, a dilapidated cabin, doom-saying local weirdos? It's a recipe we've seen cooked up time and time again. It's a tried and true formula that's served the genre well since circa 1980, but let's face it... it gets a little stale after a while.
I wanted some thing a little lighthearted for today's movie, and I was pleasantly surprised when today's movie popped up in my Netflix recommendations. It's been on my watchlist for a while, but I just never got around to it. Well, today's the day.
As discussed in my earlier review of Scream, sometimes what a tired, repetitive genre needs is to have somebody come along and turn it on its head, give the old cliches a tongue-in-cheek twist to put audiences on the edge of the seats again, and that's exactly what 2010's Tucker and Dale VS Evil set out to do.
The movie starts off with a short clip of found footage in which a camera crew are murdered by a mysterious killer. The timeline then shifts to three days prior as a car full of college students is driving into the woods for a weekend getaway. After a near accident with a couple of hillbillies in a pickup truck, the kids once again encounter the hillbillies, but their impression of the rough-looking duo is off... way off. Tucker and Dale are two friends on a trip to fix up Tucker's recently purchased vacation home on the lake. When one of the college students catches Dale's eye, Tucker encourages his friend to be confident and talk to her, but the socially awkward Dale only frightens the kids, and they leave.
Later that night, the kids are sitting around a campfire when one of the boys, Chad, tells an urban legend about a local murder. Unmoved by his tale, the others decide to go skinny dipping in the nearby lake, where Tucker and Dale happen to be fishing. Tucker and Dale accidentally scare one of the girls, Allison, and she falls into the water and hits her head. When Dale tries to get the teens' attention, they mistake his intentions and run away in fear. The two fishing buddies rescue Allison and take her back to the cabin, where they nurse her back to health while her friends' imaginations run away with them. Convinced the two hillbillies are psycho killers, and spurred on my Chad, the teens launch a rescue mission to retrieve Allison, but instead set off an unbelievable set of events that leaves both the teens and Tucker and Dale shaking in terror.
I'm honestly not sure what's more hilarious about this movie, the way the teens manage to comically kill themselves in stereotypical slasher fashion, or Tucker's and Dale's reactions to it. All things considered, I think the two good ol' boys did a pretty good job of keeping their wits about them. It was all I could do not to set myself when they calmly tried to explain their situation to the Sheriff while holding the legs of a mutilated half-corpse. The circumstances are so damned absurd that you can't really blame them for not knowing how to handle the situation, I mean... really... who would believe them!?
All the conventional slasher stereotypes are here. We've got the token black dude, the girl who close to wear stripper heels camping, the dude whose dad won't let anybody drive the car but him, and the womanizing prick with the popped collar. Aside from Allison and Chad, none of the teens are really memorable enough to bother learning their names, but isn't that kind of the point? Tucker and Dale VS Evil teaches a valuable lesson in critical thinking and not judging a book by its cover. Too bad none of these walking, talking stereotypes will live long enough to benefit from the lesson.
I've tried to keep this review as vague as possible when it comes to the real meat of the action, because I don't want to ruin any of the spectacularly hilarious carnage. It really has to be seen to be believed, so I highly recommend you crack open an ice-cold can of PBR and give Tucker and Dale VS Evil a watch on Netflix. Keep the first aid kit handy in case you bust a gut laughing.