Like every red-blooded American adult, I’ve got far more in my Netflix queue than I could possibly watch in my lifetime, barring, perhaps, a Twilight Zone-like nuclear event that leaves me as the last remaining man on Earth, in which I’ve also got ten thousand spoons when all I need is a knife or something.
So I figured that I’d set aside a week and watch one movie per night, keeping myself accountable by PROMISING THE WHOLE INTERNET THAT I’D WRITE A PROMPT REVIEW OF EACH BECAUSE I’D HATE TO DISAPPOINT THE INTERNET.
Anyway, this was a movie that I decided I wanted to see the moment I heard about it. It’s not often at all that I’m ensnared by a concept — I tend to gravitate instead toward talent, whether in front of the camera or behind it — that I feel I can rely on, because all too often the concept is irrelevant. Take an excellent idea and give it to the wrong crew and you end up with…oh, say Watchmen. Take an idea that isn’t particularly remarkable and give it to an artist, and you have Moonrise Kingdom. So I’ve trained myself, to put it flatly, not to give a flying fuck about what a movie is supposed to be about. I can’t rely on that to gauge how much I’m likely to enjoy it, so concept is about the last thing I consider when I decide what to watch.
…all of which is a long preamble that I’m about to contradict by saying I watched Tucker & Dale vs Evil for the concept. That says, I feel, less about my own capacity for self-delusion (Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself…) than it does about how rock solid this particular concept is, and I’m very surprised nobody’s done it sooner.
The film is about two evil rednecks who terrorize and murder, one by one, the innocent teenagers who unwisely decide to camp in the deep and dangerous woods. At least, that’s what the teenagers think the film’s about…Tucker and Dale, the titular murderous rednecks, are actually just good-hearted country folk who see the terrified teens accidentally killing themselves off one by one as they stand off against the unfortunate men they assume must be there to kill them.
The plot summary is in itself a spoiler as there’s not much more to the movie than its early twist. The rest of the film is just a surprisingly satisfying fulfillment of promise, and an item-by-item trot through subverting horror movie tropes. But it’s fun. It’s easy for self-aware concept horror to go off the rails (compare Shaun of the Dead to Dead and Breakfast to get an idea of just how wide the continuum is) and so I was prepared to be at least slightly disappointed…but it was actually quite fun.
There were some issues, mainly a rape-y final gag that wasn’t as funny as the filmmakers thought it was and was probably the scariest thing in the film, albeit unintentionally, but overall it’s worth a late-weekend watch. Switch your brain off, don’t think too hard, and settle in for a rural-assault horror movie told from the other side. I’d never say that Tucker & Dale vs Evil is a great movie, and I may never even say that it’s a good one. But it’s worth watching, and that’s more than I can usually say about anything.
Next up…I dunno. I have like 150 things to choose from. Don’t rush me.