Tucker & Dale vs. Evil

A group of teenagers interrupt a hillbilly fishing trip in this sar-donic slasher from 2010.

Tucker and Dale.

Probably the most interesting slasher flick since Scream, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil retells a stock story from the point of view of the hillbillies. Eli Craig’s directorial debut single-handedly undoes decades of negative stereotyping, flipping the Deliverance/Texas Chain Saw script to portray the rural Southerners as misunderstood everymen and the college kids as paranoid psychopaths.

Interestingly this requires no change in the teenage characters from the way they’re usually depicted in the genre, suggesting that the only reason they’re normally the protagonists is down to a kind of socioeconomic normativity. This reading would emphasise that Jason Voorhees was a victim of teenage negligence, and institutional ableism and classism left Pamela Voorhees without legal recourse.

If Scream‘s teenagers know they’re in a horror film, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil‘s think they are. It’s their indoctrination by cinema that causes them to wildly misjudge Tucker and Dale (Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine), and that ignorance and bigotry quickly leads to bloodshed. At the same time the film is clearly made with love and respect for the slasher tradition, rather than The Babysitter-style contempt.

As well as deconstructing the genre, Tucker & Dale is also a good slasher movie featuring plenty of fun kills and subversive slapstick not dissimilar to One Cut of the Dead. The focus on friendship, romance and character growth are arguably unprecedented, with protagonists we care about instead of willing them to die and affectionate performances from Tudyk, Labine and 30 Rock‘s Katrina Bowden.

While not scary like Scream it is similarly insightful, offering a fresh perspective that’s funny, intelligent and moral. There are two sides to every story, so don’t always believe the movies or judge a book by its cover. That said, if you see someone wearing a mask of human skin you should probably run away or vote for a different candidate.

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