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Tucker and Dale vs Evil – Review

Tucker and Dale vs Evil – Review

Feb 2, 2012

reviewed by Danny
directed by Eli Craig, 2010

It’s possible I have said this so much it is becoming my mantra, but horror comedies are a very difficult thing to pull off.  To do it well, the director and writer have to mock convention while maintaining a reverence for what is good in the genre.  Well, at least that is what I’m looking for.  It is why the original Piranha worked for me and the sequel not as much.  And, it is the reason stuff like the Scary Movie franchise are anathema to me.  When I got a hardy recommendation of Tucker and Dale vs. Evil from two horror-movie-fanatic friends, I knew that the film likely got the mix of comedy and horror right.  Turns out, they were right.  Tucker and Dale is horror-comedy done right, and it is the best slasher film parody to date (sorry, Student Bodies and Pandemonium).

Tucker and Dale plays on two slasher film sub-types, the killer hillbillies and teenager campout.  Both of those sub-types are ripe for parody, and Tucker and Dale does a good job getting right to it as we are introduced to the titular characters, the two nicest rednecks your ever likely to meet.  Tucker, played by the always great Alan Tudyck,  has just bought himself a vacation home, and he has brought his best bud, Dale (Tyler Labine) with him to help with the “fixer-upper.”  We simultaneously are introduced to a group of college kids on their way to camp out.  This group, led by the arrogant Chad (genre regular Jesse Moss, who, if his career doesn’t quite work out, can already probably survive on the horror convention circuit for the rest of his life).  Dale immediately takes a liking to the beautiful Allison (30 Rock’s Cerie).  In what will go down as one of the most awkward cute-meets in film history, Dale manages to cement in the student’s minds that country-folk are strange and dangerous.  The rest of the plot and humor of the film is based on that misconception as the redneck and college-kid paths continue to cross coincidentally.

The sight gags and specific deaths in Tucker and Dale are too good to spoil.  Suffice it to say that in an effort to escape the “killer” rednecks, the college kids manage to kill themselves in an escalating variety of ridiculous ways.  Just when it is all getting too ridiculous, the film reveals that there is a crazy killer in the mix, and the remainder of the film flips the ratio to eighty percent horror, twenty percent comedy.  There is a real threat in the denouement and our main characters take some real punishment.  I wasn’t expecting the tonal shift, and it was a pleasant surprise.

In the end, Tucker and Dale succeeds because of its tone and some great performances by the four main characters.  Tyler Labine and Jesse Moss are especially good here, with one playing it straight and the other in full scenery-chewing mode.  I highly recommend the film for horror buffs who can tolerate a bit of mockery (and I know not all of us can).