I almost didn’t see this film. When Kelly pitched it to me as ‘rednecks in the woods, but different’, every possible stereotype flooded my mind. I became sick almost immediately with ‘casual southern’ fatigue. Thankfully, this film’s a little bit more than that, but only a little bit. If you’ve ever seen a slasher film, you know the formula: group of college kids end up somewhere and are terrorized by the locals, torn to bits one by one. But in Tucker and Dale that the formula is flipped and our rednecks (Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine) are in fact the ones terrorized by the college kids.
One of the things I hate the most in films is misunderstandings – when we as an audience are omniscient to the events going on, but the characters on screen are still oblivious. This is done to dramatic effect (as in An American Tail where Fievel and his family keep missing each other) or comedic effect like we see here. I hate it. On their way to restore Tucker’s newly acquired dilapidated home, Tucker and Dale manage to freak out a group of twenty-somethings who also happen to be out on the same lake. Through a series of ‘haha’ accidents, the hillbillies end up nursing one of the girls, Allison, back to health after she falls. The others assume they’re doing cruel things to her and plot to get her back by any means necessary.
Dale ends up striking a twee relationship with Allison who comes to appreciate their humble woodsy ways and seeks to convince the others that – hey! – maybe these guys aren’t so bad. Unfortunately, her friends end up offing themselves one by one attempting to rescue her, lead by popped-collar douchebag Chad (Jesse Moss) who is pure evil from the get-go. It’s hilarious, you see? Because they’re killing themselves instead of getting murdered and then… you get the idea. People around the internet are calling it some hilarious masterpiece, but I don’t remember chuckling at anything. Look, I give the filmmakers a gold star for the effort, but the sheer amount of stereotypical slush that has to slogged through to enjoy the twist isn’t worth the effort.