Tucker & Dale vs Evil (2011)
Tucker & Dale vs Evil is genuinely funny, full of great performances and gleefully gory. Taking the traditional, well-used tactic of dumping a group of young adults in the arse end of an American camping forest and sitting back as the requisite motley crew of backwards hicks and redneck freaks mutilate and murder them, and tipping it firmly and cheekily on its head, Tucker & Dale vs Evil succeeds where so many other horror comedies fail. It’s actually funny for a start. The characters are likable and the story moves swiftly; all killer, no filler.
Tucker and Dale are two bumbling, baseball-capped, dungaree wearing hillbillies. Tucker (a pitch perfect Alan Tudyk) has just sunk all of his life savings into a dilapidated ‘vacation home’ in the middle of the woods and their plan is to head out there and work on the ‘fixer upper’. Separately, a bunch of brainless, stereotype-heavy teens are headed out to the very same woods for a weekend of pot smoking, beer drinking and skinny dipping. When the two groups meet, the teens mistakenly assume that the lovable duo are creepy mountain dwelling freaks that are out to kill them and when they unwittingly save/kidnap one of the girls (30 Rock’s Katrina Bowden), hilarity ensues by the truckload.
Tucker & Dale vs Evil has many things going for it. To begin with, the cast is excellent. Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine have a delightful repartee and bounce off each other very naturally and with perfect comic timing and the pesky College kids are played with just enough vulnerability that they’re believable but enough ego and stupidity that they’re not relatable and therefore very disposable. The script is full of witty one-liners and cleverly observed homages to classic (and not-so-classic) horror and despite deconstructing an old genre cliche, also manages to be very respectful of both the audience and the age old horror movie ‘rules’.
Despite Eli Craig never having directed a feature length project before this, he deals with proceedings very well. The direction is not stand-out, sometimes it even borders on perfunctory, but it fits the subject matter incredibly well and there are certainly rare moments of genius. It will be incredibly interesting to see how Craig chooses to use those budding talents in the future.
There is no hidden agenda in Tucker & Dale vs Evil, it’s purpose is to make you laugh and to entertain, and it delivers the laughs in quick succession, barely giving the audience any time for a breather in between. Each frame is filled with such joyful banter and in-your-face splatstick that it’s hard not to watch it with a near permanent grin and for that reason, can only endear the viewer to it.
Tucker & Dale vs Evil might be as subtle as a wood-chipper to the face (quite literally at one point) but it never pretends to be anything it’s not and is all the more endearing for it. There is genuine heart at the core of the picture which just shouldn’t work but somehow manages to. It’s fun, funny, subversive, wince-inducing and will surely have any horror fan in stitches thanks to the smart script and fantastic rapport between the two leads.
Sometimes a film comes along that you simply can’t wait to share with friends and Tucker & Dale vs Evil is one such film. Genre fans would have to be pretty hard-hearted or humourless not to find something to enjoy here. Highly recommended.
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