By: Garrett Collins
Starring: Tyler Labine, Alan Tudyk, Katrina Bowden, Jesse Moss, Chelan Simmons, Phillip Granger
Every once in awhile, a movie comes along that uses foundations brought by horror films before it and makes them its own. No, not homages, per se. Something far more creative than that. It takes a few movies from the past, inserts them into its structure, and yet builds its own movie around it. Eli Roth’s Cabin Fever did this, as did Shawn of the Dead. But, the successfully goofy fun film Tucker & Dale vs. Evil is a movie that takes all these conditions and turns them on their head. It’s a movie that messes with horror clichés, and builds its own structure. And, a movie that is far more enjoyable than most any film that has come out the last few years or so.
The film is about Tucker & Dale, two lovable guys who are just going to their “fix’er, up’er” summer cabin for some beer drinkin’ and hillbilly fun. On the same weekend, a group of college kids come up to do most anything that involves beer drinking. Low and behold, they catch sight of the title characters and assume they are like every single “redneck” that you see in horror films. They think they are out to terrorize their group. Little do they know that Tucker & Dale are two of the nicest guys, and mean them no harm. Sure enough, people start dying in some pretty graphic, yet hilarious ways (if you thought the wood chipper in Fargo was bad, get a load of the way the tool is used in this film) and insanity ensues.
The plot is really original, and director/co-writer Eli Craig has obviously seen and enjoyed many horror films from the past 30 years. Everything from Texas Chainsaw Massacre to Deliverance to Evil Dead is represented here. Yet, like I said, it’s the story that makes it seem so refreshingly original. Its success starts with the two leads, Labine and Tudyk, who have unmistakable chemistry and, Labine in particular, coming off as extremely lovable. Tudyk acts not only as his friend, but also mentor on life and confidence. Then, when the character of Alison (played by 30 Rock’s secretary Bowden, who looks like a late 90s circa Tara Reid) accidently falls off a rock and gets rescued by the hillbillies, the story really turns its plot wheels. In fact, the writing, Bowden and Labine are so good here that the surprising love story that develops within the film seems believably plausible.
Tucker & Dale isn’t for everybody. However, I have watched this movie twice, once by myself and once with a couple people. And, both times I not only howled with laughter, I was caught up in the fun story that unraveled before me. And, while the end might have made the film fall off its original hinges just a tad, the laugh out loud humor and originality it brings to the table more than trumps that very small quibble. If you are a fan of horror, or even a fan of fun yet slightly demented comedy, grab yourself a copy of this blu ray and a few beers, sit down, and enjoy this puppy. Trust me…you will not be disappointed.
4.5 out of 5