Ever have one of those days were everything manages to go wrong? No matter how good your intentions were everything still manages to look bad. Well, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil probably has you beat because it literally is the result of one massive chain of miscommunication and director Eli Craig understands how to walk that line of silly comedy and horror just perfectly. Lead actors Tyler Labine and Alan Tudyk give some very memorable performances and help make a harmless little indie film a great comedy with some really impressive horror effects.
Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine) are two simple men that have plans to fix up their vacation home and enjoy some time off. They can be described as hillbillies or rednecks by some, but in the end their just two people; two friends looking to get away from the real world for a bit and enjoy the great outdoors, but the woods they choose to stay in aren’t vacant as a group of college kids are also looking for a little relaxation time in the same area. The college kids are spoiled brats who fit all of the stereotypes in the book, from your token black guy to your blonde bimbo; they’re all here front and center.
The paths of the college kids and Tucker and Dale cross early on in the film and almost immediately a fog of misdirected tension is born. Tucker encourages his buddy Dale to go over and talk to one of the college ladies and after a few minutes of preparation Dale finally does it. The college kids see this simple situation from a very different viewpoint. They think this huge, but actually very kind hillbilly is up to no good and they hastily rush off. As the college kids leave they talk about how the hillbillies were probably trying to harm them or mess with them in some way when the reality of it all was just something as simple as a guy mustering up some courage to talk to a pretty lady.
Tucker & Dale vs. Evil follows this hilarious formula for the rest of the film. Tucker and Dale are honestly two of the nicest guys in the world, but the college kids see them as crazed hillbillies straight out of a Wrong Turn flick. Each time Tucker and Dale run into one of the kid’s two very different mindsets are crossed and the result is shockingly funny. The first few altercations are unexpected and extremely funny, but it’s how director Eli Craig manages to keep bringing that same level of laughs with each new scene that really makes this one special.
The opening of the film sets up the characters and the middle of the film follows the same formula, but it never once feels tired or boring, instead it keeps you on the edge of your seat guessing what’s to come next. Tucker and Dale get themselves into a whole mess of problems and they manage to come away from it all with a positive perspective. It’s not the most logical film, but given the options they are presented with they sure do make it entertaining to watch.
For such a small production the film also features some nicely done gore effects. Most of it was done via practical techniques and it looks really impressive. Tucker & Dale is very much a horror movie as well as a comedy. You can’t have the laughs without the crazy kills and you can’t have the crazy kills without the laughs. They go hand and hand with each other and create for a very balanced film. Without one or the other Tucker & Dale would have suffered from being either too silly or way too serious, but luckily that wasn’t the case.
Tyler Labine is really sculpting himself as a great comedian actor. Up until this year I only knew him as the drunk guy from Zack and Miri Make a Porno. I recently enjoyed him in A Good Old Fashioned Orgy, in which he played the silly fat guy, but not to an overly irritating or annoying point like fellow bearded actor Zach Galifianakis. In Tucker & Dale Labine plays a much more charming character who just doesn’t know when or how to say no and stick up for himself. Alan Tudyk plays his trusty sidekick Tucker, who is more level-headed. Both actors share some chemistry that certainly helps the film stay on target.
Tucker & Dale vs. Evil is a fast paced, stable and well balanced film that gives you a sizable dose of comedy and an even bigger dose of horror in terms of blood and gore. It gets going fast and unravels with insanity. It never wastes much time developing the characters, which is actually a really good thing for this kind of film, but that’s not to say that our flagship characters aren’t given enough focus. Both Tucker and Dale are given their fair share of ridiculous moments. It’s a very light film that can be easily enjoyed on the surface. You’ll be laughing one minute and squirming the next, depending on your level of blood and dismemberment intake. I find it very hard to believe that such a blast of a film like this was having troubles finding distribution. It’s an audience pleaser for sure and if you get a chance to see it make sure to see it on the big screen with a full house. You won’t be disappointed.
Tucker & Dale vs. Evil – 8/10