Dale (Tyler Labine) and Tucker (Alan Tudyk) are heading up to Tucker's new vacation home. It's in need of serious work, but they're pretty excited for the opportunity. Perhaps not rocket scientists they're well meaning people that fit the redneck/hillbilly stereotype in a big way, at least from the outside. But in this film which minus the gallons of blood has the theme of many an after school special, external appearances rarely tell the entire story. At the same time a group of college kids including the female star of the film Allison (Katrina Bowden) are heading up to the same area to go camping/drinking and (of course in this film that properly traffics in all the necessary stereotypes) skinny dipping. The two groups encounter each other at a roadside convenience store much to the horror of the college group who immediately fear the sleeveless, baseball hat wearing country folk.
At the time of the aforementioned skinny dipping Allison spooked by seeing Dale and Tucker fishing falls and hits her head. Dale rescues her and takes her back to their cabin. But the college kids interpret this as them having kidnapped the innocent blond coed. As they plan their revenge a series of misunderstandings that would make the crew of Three's Company blush even if they found themselves stuck on Gilligan's Island continually ratchets up the intensity of the college kids' need to strike back at the two friends. As they try to recapture the girl the kids have an unfortunate predilection for killing themselves in escalating gruesome ways. The misunderstandings are laugh out loud funny and I found myself alternating between cringing as I watched each setup unfold to laughing hard at the dialog and ridiculous situations.
One of the things I was particularly impressive is that for a splatter comedy it managed to make things work across dimensions that seem contradictory to me. The film is funny, yet director Eli Craig manages to actually keep dramatic tension going all the way through to the final scene where in most other (far more serious) movies I've all but lost interest in the final climactic battle. At the same time I was genuinely interested in the relationship between Tucker and Dale, and found the potential romance angle between Allison and Tucker compelling in it's own right. OK, I'm sort of a sap - so that last part might not be as hard as it seems. But for me the filmmakers managed to really pull everything together into a very entertaining 90 minutes that had both my attention and my laughter from the first scene onwards. Even the look of the film is just right with the feel of a more standard genre slasher flick, but a very smoothly shot one which only adds to the inversion of roles that I think they're going for.
I've seen the description of this film from Fantastic Fest and SXSW from which I thought this would be a bit of horror mixed with comedy. I'm not really a serious horror genre fan so I did have some reservations going in. But this is really a comedy, or possibly a love story about not judging a book by its cover, but not a true horror film. If you are physically incapable though of viewing the horrific and sudden death of a human being, even if they are a frat boy, as comedy though you probably should steer clear of this film. Otherwise, I find it hard to believe that most other folks who can handle a bit of bloody black comedy will be quite taken by this production. My understanding from friends up north is that the film does have distribution there - but perhaps not quite in the US. That's a shame because I think this is actually a very accessible film that could potentially be a pretty broad hit in America.
This is playing again Saturday night as SIFF's midnighter. I highly suggest trying to get out there to check this out yourself. It'll be fun on video, or in a theater (fingers crossed). But it'll be a rare screening that will have the palpable excitement of the amped up crowd midnight SIFF. And you'll want that when you witness the most interesting usage of chamomile team possibly ever committed to film.
In conclusion, Tyler Labine - all is forgiven for Control Alt Delete. :-)