Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tucker and Dale vs Evil

Tucker and Dale vs Evil hit the film festival circuit early last year, and is now on video.

I try to stay away from hype on a film.  I certainly stay away from those pesky awards, but on this one, I can see why it took SXSW Audience Award, as well a couple of other festival awards, because this is a little film with a lot of hearts.  On screen, usually getting impaled with something sharp, wooden, and with a fair amount of Karo-based faux-blood product.

Our tale begins with a pack of college kids heading out into the woods for a weekend of fun at the lake. Enter Tucker and Dale, a couple of back woods boys who are likewise heading to the lake and Tucker's new vacation home, a charming fixer upper cabin in West Virginia.  Which happens to be across said lake from the camping spot of our erstwhile college kids, out for a good time.

Without wanting to spoil things too much, let us say that hijinks ensue when Tucker and Dale are mistaken by the pack of college ne'erdowells as backwoods hillbilly psychopaths, and their quiet weekend of fixing up the cabin takes several turns for the worse as wave after wave of frat boys and girls extinguish themselves in appropriately spectacular fashions trying to escape the hapless fellas, just out to drink beer, fish, and clean out their new vacation home.

I would like to say that there was a deeper story, but that would be a lie. It is a film that likes the characters, likes to play with conventions--the earnest Tucker and Dale holding off a horde of college kids who seem hellbent to kill themselves in front of the boys, the beautiful lass left for dead by her friends, and saved by the kindly Dale--it treats Tucker and Dale with respect, while the cartoonish college kids are fodder for effects mill, as is the wont of slasher films galore. What it is, is funny and entertaining, and I love its tagline: The perfect love story...with a high body count puts well the entire film into a tasty tidbit.

Scary?  Not so much. Cartoonish violence, a thin story, it is a great send up for slasher movies, and plays with the conventions that we all know, all hold dear, and shows you exactly how it's going to tip them over, and holds you accountable for how you take that.  Eli Craig, who wrote and directed the film, isn't taking you through any new country, but that's half the fun.  You know the conventions, you know the premise, and it's still a funny and fresh film.  In part, because of the charm of Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine, and that of Katrina Bowden, who plays the damsel in peril, saved by our hillbilly heroes from a terrible death by drowning.  The performances, and goofiness play off the script, intentionally thin and a foil for the conventions of the slasher, and the one thing that the film does, is keep its tongue firmly in cheek and with great affection to the source material and the genre.

If you missed it on the circuit, you can catch it on Netflix or at your video store. It is one of those gems that comes up on occasion that make movie watching fun. That is, if you find campy horror with grisly ends fun...

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