The titular Tucker and Dale are two hillbillies who’ve been friends since childhood. Tucker is the leader while Dale is the “dumb” one, yet like most things in this film there is more to Dale than that. It turns out he has a photographic memory as well and is actually more socially awkward than stupid. Tucker just bought a cabin in the woods, his “vacation home” and they are heading off for a peaceful trip away from everyone else so that can fix it up, drink some beer and relax. Too bad for them a bunch of college kids are heading to the same spot of woods for a weekend getaway. What follows is possibly the worse case of misunderstanding ever put on film.
Tucker And Dale vs Evil does a brilliant job of mixing the horror and comedy genres. The film opens with the college kids getting an instant creepy vibe off the hapless buddies when Dale (Tyler Labine) attempts to speak to the girls at a gas station thus planting the seeds for their fear. Things go from bad to worse that first night in the woods when Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale decide to go fishing while the co-eds dabble in a little skinny-dipping. Allison (Katrina Bowden) falls and hits her head on a rock while getting in the water and Dale jumps in the water to save her. Allison’s friends think she is being kidnapped and the hilarious madness builds from there.
While attempting to “rescue” Allison her friends manage to impale themselves, toss themselves in a wood chipper and dowse themselves in flames amongst other atrocities all while Tucker and Dale try to figure out just what the hell is going on and protect Allison at the same time.
Sure it’s a silly story, but it works. Besides the fantastic genre bending, what really sells this film are the characters and their relationships. Labine and Tudyk are completely believable as Dale and Tucker, there is no question that these characters have been best friends forever. But even more than that is the unlikely relationship that builds between Dale and Allison. Labine and Bowden give such great performance with some really wonderfully written dialogue. Allison’s transformation from being terrified by Dale to… well… you’ll have to see the film to believe it yourself. It is also worthy noting at this point some classic movie magic allows Allison to look absolutely gorgeous throughout the whole film, even when Dale dresses her in Tucker’s cloths.
Leading the college kids is Chad (Jesse Moss), a guy who goes from being your typical frat douche with an upturned collar on his Lacoste shirt to showing some truly psychopathic tendencies. All films like this need a back-story to explain the “evil” and this film manages to be both believable (within the context of the film that is) and just as hilarious as the rest of the film. The rest of the college kids are your standard horror fodder all lined up to die one-by-one, but even these typically underdeveloped characters are acted well above what is expected.
Along with being well acted, the film is very well written and shot. Director Eli Craig really knows his horror films and knows exactly how to play with the conventions of the genre and use them to perfect comic timing. In one scene in particular, the college kids are trying to decide who will approach the dilapidated cabin. Around back Tucker accidentally cuts through a beehive with a chainsaw. So Tucker comes running around the corner screaming swinging the chainsaw around trying to escape the bees. Seeing this the college kids scatter into the woods trying to escape Tucker.
With all it’s gore, Tucker and Dale vs Evil certainly isn’t going to be for everybody, but for those who enjoy this kind of film, they are sure to love it!
Director: Eli Craig
Notable Cast: Tyler Labine, Alan Tudyk, Katrina Bowden and Jesse Moss
Writer(s): Eli Craig and Morgan Jurgenson