About five years ago, my friend and I were browsing Netflix and stumbled upon this movie. It looked absolutely moronic, so we turned it on hoping we would at least be able to laugh at the terrible acting. By the time the movie was over, however, we were both shocked at how much we really enjoyed this film. When I realized it was still on Netflix, I decided to watch it this morning before work.
Tucker & Dale vs Evil is a satirical movie that plays on the ridiculousness of horror movie tropes. Generally speaking, horror movies seem to fall under three different story structures: A nuclear family that gets terrorized by a horror creature (like The Darkness or The Witch), the attractive, innocent, young girl who gets terrorized by a horror creature (like The Forest or The Boy), and finally, the group of dopey college kids that get terrorized by a horror creature. This is the one that Tucker & Dale falls under, and it completely takes advantage of just how overdone this specific trope is.
Tucker and Dale are two idiotic rednecks who purchase a cabin as a summer home, and they bring a bunch of tools to the house in hopes to fix it up. Meanwhile, a group of equally idiotic college kids are hanging out together in the same woods in hopes of getting high and drunk during summer vacation. A misunderstanding happens one night which ultimately ties the two groups together, only the college kids think that Tucker and Dale are psychotic, murderous hillbillies, and Tucker and Dale do not understand why the college kids are coming after them.
The idiocy of both parties not only makes for some hilarious jokes and scenes, but it also allows the story to continue without a logically driven character intervening in this madness. If this was a horror movie that had no awareness of just how stupid it was being, then this would be a premise for an extremely underwhelming scary movie, but because this is a comedy that knows exactly how stupid it is being, Tucker & Dale vs Evil is an absolute joy to watch.
However, the greatness of this movie does not just stop at being self-aware, but this movie also has enough of a brain to create interesting characters. Tucker’s and Dale’s characteristics do not just stop at “dumb hillbillies”. There are distinct differentiations in their development which means that the jokes rarely ever become stale.
I guess it also doesn’t hurt to mention that the college girl who Dale has a crush on is extraordinarily effortless to look at.
This girl is one of two college kids that have more development than just “dopey college kid”, and I honestly appreciate the fact that the movie doesn’t just make her some attractive bimbo who falls for the idiot immediately (like every single Adam Sandler movie I’ve ever watched). Sure, she does fall into a few tired horror tropes, but the fact that she’s supposed to, and the fact that those are not her sole defining traits, means that she isn’t ruined as a character.
There’s a point in the movie during my first viewing where my eyes widened and I thought “Oh, THAT’s where the movie is going to go. Okay then.” I kind of wish I could talk about this point, but I feel like part of the enjoyment of this movie is discovering where it plans on taking the story.
There are a few times where I feel like the movie is a bit heavy handed in just how many horror movie cliches they try to put in one scene, but the film has a large amount of self-restraint for the majority of the time.
Tucker & Dale vs Evil is probably one of my favorite horror movie satires. It probably ranks up there with The Cabin in the Woods, but while The Cabin in the Woods is probably the better made film, Tucker & Dale vs Evil is definitely the funnier of the two. I definitely recommend this movie, especially if you are a horror movie fan, and I’m giving this movie an 8 out of 10.