Tucker & Dale vs. Evil

Reviewed By Adrian Starland
Posted 09/13/11 07:16:47

"point / counterpoint"
4 stars (Worth A Look)

Imagine running through a secluded & isolated woodland in desperate panic mode, being chased by a couple of bloodthirsty murderous psychopaths who are hell bent on dispatching with all of the members of your vacation camping troupe, until you decide to take matters into your own hands and start “fighting back” with equal savagery and deadly force in a brutal display of guts & gore galore! Now imagine that those same “psychopaths” from whom you are fleeing and whom you are retaliating against are viewing “you” and “your group” as the truly psychotic ones! Hence the old axiom... “Everything depends on your 'perspective'.”

Welcome to the backwoods of West Virginia, where a group of college friends decide to enjoy their Memorial Day holiday camping, telling “spooky” stories, skinny dipping, putting on “beer drunks,” you know, the usual “slasher movie” cliché stuff.

Welcome to the same backwoods of West Virginia where country-born & bred childhood buddies, the titular duo Tucker and Dale, have arrived to renovate the equally cliché “lonely rundown cabin in the woods” which the slender “positive thinker” Tucker had recently purchased as his “vacation home”; the burly thick-bearded shy & somewhat childlike Dale tags along to offer a helping hand with the repairs and to be a “pass-the-time” pal as Tucker's favorite fishing partner.

When these two clashes of cultures meet up for the first time as a roadside combination quickie-mart/gas-station, it's pretty plain to see that things have started off pretty tensely between the two camps and can only be expected to go from bad to worse as they learn that each of their respective final destinations brings them all into very close proximity to one another.

And this is where the fun/tragedy begins.

When the meek Dale, acting as the magnetic force trying to spin Tucker's moral compass in the right direction, interferes with his fishing buddy's “Peeping Tom” opportunity on the lake, an unfortunate mishap occurs with the young woman Tucker was spying – who also happened to be the same woman whom Dale had attempted to strike-up an awkward conversation with only a few hours earlier at the roadside mart. It was largely because of the unease the gang of students felt with Dale during that initial encounter at the roadside mart, as well as their openly expressed prejudices against “hillbillies,” that now leads to the campers' panic, fear and misunderstanding... and sets the stage for the ensuing blood splurting chaos.

Repeatedly attempting to establish contact and communication with the campers to inform them that their friend was safely rescued but had been retrieved injured & unconscious and was in need of some medical attention, the students instead misinterpret the loud shouts and seemingly unstable activities of the shaggy pair as deadly threatening behavior from a couple of certifiable lunatics. It also doesn't help matters any when, as a result of more misunderstanding and misinterpretations, the students themselves begin meeting with tragic undignified ends, but not in any way associated with their biased and unwarranted suspicions – their own reactionary fear having clouded their eyes and their rational minds to the reality of the situation around them.

As the unfortunate “body count” rises, so does the tension and state of desperation in both camps, and the only one who it seems may be able to bring any sort of calm and possible reconciliation to the misguided warring factions keeps finding herself oblivious to whirlwind of fury & splatter as a result of repeatedly being knocked unconscious at the most inopportune times.

And though it really did not need one, and could've been just as effective a story without one, there is nonetheless a very clever and quite unexpected “reveal” during the climatic scene which raises just as many questions as it does provide answers regarding one particular character's obsessions and motivations.

There are some clear homages to the “Friday the 13th” series of movies (at least those where the “campgrounds” were still being used as a backdrop), and much of the make-up, special effects and character antics will undeniably call to mind Sam Raimi's “Evil Dead II” as lending obvious inspiration.

If the viewer can survive the barrels of gore, “Tucker & Dale vs. Evil” works as a twisted little esoteric comedy with lots of lighthearted and rib-tickling moments even during many of the more “intense” scenes of the movie – which is a tough trick for even the “big budget” gorillas to pull off with some success!

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