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Sundance ’10 REVIEW: First Look at ‘Tucker & Dale vs Evil’ Mixed

The 2010 Sundance Film Festival officially kicled off last night with the first midnight screening being Eli Craig’s horror comedy Tucker & Dale vs Evil. While Ryan Daley is down in the freezing cold, Bloody Disgusting is also receiving a slew of reviews courtesy of the lovely Roxanne Benjamin (aka Reckless Rox here on BD) . To kick off the coverage, beyond the break you’ll find Roxanne’s thoughts on Tucker & Dale, a film that sounds like it didn’t blow any minds.
The premiere of Tucker & Dale vs. Evil was completely packed out last night at the Library Center Theater as Park City After Midnight kicked off. Even for a midnight screening, the wait list line was long-and some had been standing in the snow for 2 hours on the off-chance they could make it in to the screening. The rambunctious crowd was less industry and more actual film lovers, with the suits out networking at the various RSVP-only open bar parties around the mountain.

The short documentary horror hybrid THE S FROM HELL preceded the film, the first horror-comedy-doc about an advertising logo in perhaps, well, ever. It garnered a few laughs, but the voiceover describing the terror that the logo induced tended to the repetitive.

The premise of Tucker & Dale is by now well-covered: a comedy movie with horror elements rather than a horror movie with comedic elements. Definite tongue-in-cheek references to the Evil Deads and Army of Darkness are scattered throughout the film. Director Eli Craig stated that Raimi’s work had a direct influence on the feel of the Tucker and Dale, which originally developed from the question “What if Leatherface was really innocent, and the whole thing was a misunderstanding?”

I have to give props to the writers for the number of ways that a college student can inadvertently off themselves without the two main characters knowing what the hell is going on. Tyler Labine and Alan Tudyk show off their acting chops as Dale and Tucker the well-meaning hillbillies, playing at both high and low-brow levels of comedic genius and stupidity (often within the same sentence). The two raise the bar of the film exponentially, and the one-on-one interactions between the two are the definite highlight of the film.

Dale’s love interest, played by actress Katrina Bowden, fills both the horror and romantic comedy role of the hot survivor girl with a heart of gold, playing straight man to Dale’s fumbling romantic attempts to a tee. Where the movie fails is in the ensemble acting of the college kids-we know they’re supposed to be clueless, but that doesn’t mean their dialogue needs to be as well. The actors don’t play well off of each other in their group scenes until the last third of the movie, and the ringleader frat boy’s performance overpowers the others. More than a few cheers went up as the body count rose.

For a beginner film trying to ride the line of romantic comedy and horror, Tucker & Dale is both original and satisfying on the gore meter. When it hits its stride and the action picks up in the second act, it breaks out of its own self-consciousness and brings out the best of both genres. The film definitely has its high and low spots, with some strange directorial and editing choices being made, particularly in the flashback scenes in the first act. Tucker & Dale is a fun movie that is definitely worth a view, though it doesn’t quite live up to the hype.

Rating: 6/10

Add Roxanne as a friend here on BD.



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