Tucker & Dale vs. Evil (2010) dir. Eli Craig
Starring: Tyler Labine,
By Alan Bacchus
Tucker & Dale vs. Evil manages to find an angle in the cabin movie horror genre still untapped. Eli Craig lampoons these films by putting his audience in the point of view of hillbilly psychopath characters creating a great comedy of errors pitting a couple of lovable but hapless hillbillies against a group of pretentious college students. It makes for a riotous comic horror affair.
Tucker and Dale (Tyler Labine and Alan Tudyk) are a couple of backwater hillbillies lifted from Deliverance, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes, except they’re actually really conscientious, genuine and respectable citizens. But to a bunch of spoiled college kids on a camping trip who’ve seen all these movies they look like psychopaths.
They first meet at a local gas station where Eli Craig cleverly intercuts the two conversations of the two sets of characters. The college kids can only see crazed maniacs based on the hillbillies’ actions and words, but from Tucker and Dale’s point of view, they’re just trying to make friends. Tyler Labine plays the trivia-smart/common sense-dumb Tucker with great sincerity. Early on, Tucker tries to ask the blonde hottie Allison (Katrina Bowden) out on a date. Despite his good intentions, he comes off as more than awkward and, to Allison, a psychotic inbred killer.
Tucker and Dale and the college kids (which becomes Tucker’s generalized term for them) convene again at a decrepit cabin in the woods. What looks like an Evil Dead cabin to the kids is the ‘summer home’ purchased by Tucker and Dale, who have become proud homeowners.
The comedy of errors escalates into action when, by accident, the kids start killing themselves in horrific ways, which of course make Tucker and Dale look like murderers. At one point, while Dale is chopping some wood, one of the kids runs after him and accidentally jumps into the chipper. A fun love story emerges between Tucker and Allison, a beauty and the beast romance, which caps off this ingenious genre twister.
Tucker & Dale is fun midnight madness entertainment. Like Shaun of the Dead, Craig has an intimate love for the genre, and his knowledge of the tropes of cabin-in-the-woods storytelling makes for a movie as genuine as it is honest. And Craig has heaps of comic gore to satisfy the blood quotient of the genre. But it's Tyler Labine and Alan Tudyk, who riff and roll like a great Laurel and Hardy comedic duo, that make this even more fun than the twisty concept.