Sep 27, 2013

[Movies] Tucker & Dale vs Evil (2010)

An appreciation for Joss Whedon eventually leads you to an appreciation for Alan Tudyk, who once played Wash on Firefly and Alpha on Dollhouse, among other non-Whedon adventures. He's a quirky actor with a rather interesting range (yes that was him being all fussy in Transformers: Dark of the Moon) and I even find him cute at times. His career outside of Whedon productions isn't all that bad either, when you really take the time.

Tobie and I had caught the trailer for Tucker & Dale vs Evil online and the movie certainly got us curious. However I don't remember the movie getting that big of a commercial release here in the Philippines, or at least it didn't get heavily promoted or something. So the fact that it has been about 3 years since the movie had come out and we still hadn't seen it sort of surprised us both.

The movie was certainly funny, but also a lot smarter than we had expected. It does a great job of taking the classic horror movie concept and turning it on its head in a manner that works from both a narrative and a comedic perspective. Needless to say I had a lot of fun with it.

Synopsis: Tucker & Dale vs Evil is a 2010 comedy horror movie written and directed by Eli Craig. It was actually released at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival and was also part of the 2010 SXSW Film Festival, where it won the Audience Award.

The movie begins with a group of college friends - Allison (Katrina Bowden), Chad (Jesse Moss), Chloe (Chelan Simmons), Chuck (Travis Nelson), Jason (Brandon Jay McLaren), Naomi (Christie Lang), Todd (Alex Arsenault), Mitch (Adam Beauchesne) and Mike (Joseph Allan Sutherland), who are all going on a camping trip together. They take a pit stop at a gas station where they encounter two hillbillies Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine). Dale tries to strike up a conversation with Allison since he finds her attractive, but of course stereotypes and such come into play and the group just gets creeped out by Dale's awkward attempts at socializing (plus he he carrying a scythe the whole time).

Tucker and Dale on the other hand are on their way to check out their new vacation home - a rather rundown cabin near the lake and in a heavily forested area. The place needs a lot of work before it's truly presentable and the two set about clearing the immediate area and repairing the damage to the cabin. Meanwhile the college kids start telling scary stories with Chad telling everyone about some Memorial Day Massacre that involved hillbillies some 20 years ago. This has them all thinking of how dangerous hillbillies might be - something that really comes into play once Tucker and Dale manage to save Allison after she injures herself but is interpreted as a kidnapping by her friends.

The movie plays on a lot of stereotypes - both in terms of "hillbillies" in general or perhaps horror movies of this nature. Normally the young, attractive characters tend to be the protagonists in such movies but here things are turned around and we're expected to root for Tucker and Dale instead. And this is not because they're overly heroic or something like that. It has more to do with the fact that the college kids make all these horrible assumptions based on their impressions of Tucker and Dale instead of taking the time to just ask and find out more about what had gone on. Thus is a major theme in the movie and it leads to a lot of ridiculous situations.

And the way that these stereotypes and movie tropes come into play is rather hilarious. We have all the appropriate camera angles that horror movies use to drive tension. You have all the same scenarios and situations that one finds in such horror movies but the explanations behind them are totally different. Thus the narrative that ties all these tropes together is really the star here given it twists everything around to have us realizing how a lot of our horror movie heroes tend to based their decisions on very limited information. And thus the potential for misinterpretation of events is always going to be there.

I knew Tucker & Dale vs Evil was going to be funny but I totally wasn't expecting to be as amused as I was by the end of the movie. It's wonderfully enjoyable and subtly smart at the same time, which is a great mix for any production. Thus the movie rates a great 4.5 stupid college kids getting themselves killed out of a possible 5.

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