Tucker & Dale vs. Evil is a Canadian Comedy/Horror film released in 2010. Written by Morgan Jurgenson and Eli Craig, who is also the films director is a great send up of the slasher genre. For those of you that have been following this blog have learned two things about me, first is that I simply adore slasher movies, the second is I love my horror mixed with comedy. The later of the two wasn’t something I was initially fond of, but it’s something that has developed as I’ve been watching films and talking about films here.
The plot for this film is incredibly simple. A group of college kids Allison (Katrina Bowden), Chad (Jesse Moss), Chloe (Chelan Simmons), Jason (Brandon Jay McLaren), Naomi (Christie Laing), Todd (Alex Arsenault), Mitch (Adam Beauchesne) and Mike (Joseph Sutherland) are on their way to go camping. While stopped at a gas station they encounter Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine), who are two hillbillies on their way to their new vacation cabin in the woods. Under Tuckers advice Dale tries to talk to Allison, who he fancies. But since Dale is shy, has an inferiority complex, he bumbles his way through their first encounter scarring her and her friends. Tucker and Dale lick their wounds and head off to do some work on their cabin, while the college kids leave to go party at the camp. Later that night while fishing Tucker and Dale witness Allison fall into the water while swimming, hitting her head. Dale leaps in saving her, but Allisons friends see the two and assume that she’s been abducted. Chad having told the story earlier of the “Memorial Day Massacre” assume that the two plan to kill her and decided to attempt a rescue. But one by one the kids die via bad luck, unfortunate timing and misunderstanding. Allison becomes close to Dale and tries to aid the two in fixing the situation. But is eventually taken by Chad who thinks that she’s fallen in love with them due to Stockholm Syndrome. Forcing Dale to find his courage to save her.
Well damn this is a good movie. It thrives on great characters much like Cabin in the Woods. In fact, both film have a lot in common so if you enjoyed that movie you should give this one a spin. Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine are absolutely hilarious and believable in their portrayals as Tucker and Dale. Jason Sudeikis was originally cast as Tucker, so whoever had the brilliant idea to switch to Alan Tudyk is a flat out genius. Alan Tudyk brings so much charm and nuance to the film that it wouldn’t be what it is without him. Tudyk and Labine are believable as to backwater friends who get caught up in misconceptions and are forced into situations that they know they have no reason to be in.
I heavily enjoy the role reversal with the hillbillies being tormented by the city folk. Now I know that a very strong argument can be made that the same thing happens all the time in horror and is often the catalyst for the events of the film. Carol J. Clover in her book Men, Women and Chainsaws touches on this subject a few times. But for the me the film reads more as the straight prejudice of Chad bleeding into the rest of his group along with his inability to see a viewpoint separate from his own.
The setting is absolutely perfect from the woods to the dilapidated cabin that Tucker and Dale are fixing up. Both are very charming and whimsical while at the same time carry the haunting tone of a place with a dark past. As the film progresses the tone of the film darkens turning into an effective horror film due to the fact you end up caring about the characters. I know I always bring this up, heck it should be my tag line instead of the “It’s not always about the body count”, but relate-able likable characters are what sell a horror film for me. You can have a person die in inventive ways as much as you want, but unless I like the them, I simply won’t care for them thus I won’t be concerned about them.
The supporting cast beyond Katrina Bowden and Jesse Moss are sadly not that great. They all do an alright job, I would even push it as far a passable. But they all seem well… dumb. I know they’re sheep and being lead by Chad but they never seem to question anything. They all come off as shallow one dimensional characters and with the other actors doing so great I feel that they slacked rather than rising to the occasion.
So final thoughts times. Well it’s mostly very well acted, with a strong script and great premise. The film pulls more comedy than from horror, but never claims to be more than it is and that’s something that I really enjoy. When a film knows what it is and doesn’t try to be more than what it is. It just tries to be the best at what it is. Tucker and Dale do that for me as it’s easily one if not my favorite horror comedy… wait, nope it’s second. The first is still Rocky Horror Picture show. I could praise that movie all damn day. But that’s a subject for another time, Tucker and Dale gets a well earned 8.5/10.