SXSW ’10 REVIEW: Another Look at ‘Tucker and Dale vs Evil’

Ryan Daley reviewed the film at this past Sundance Film Festival, now below you’ll find Tim Anderson’s take on Eli Craig’s horror-comedy Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, which is called “a backwoods comedy of horrific errors” in which two unsuspecting buddies, Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine), fall victim to the crazed machinations of a group of spring breakers who have mistaken them for backwoods killers. Keep up with all of our SXSW coverage by clicking here.
Tucker (Alan Tudyk, Serenity) and Dale (Tyler Labine, Reaper) are just your everyday average, overall-wearing, redneck, hillbilly, backwoods, country boys. But hey, they got dreams too. And, Tucker’s dream is to buy a vacation home. So, when the pair arrive at their newly purchased ramshackle cabin in the woods, they’re so excited, or perhaps clueless, that they totally ignore the bee hives, the leaky roof, the rotting floor and all the serial killer décor that adorns the crusty spotted-brown walls. Sure the whole place looks like a death trap and a stiff wind might blow the roof off at any second, but damnit, this is home, and Tucker and Dale are just thrilled to be here for some quality fishing time. Of course things never go as smoothly in a horror film as one would like, and when a group of doofy college kids show up, it’s only a matter of time before Tucker and Dale’s little vacation time turns into the holiday from hell.

Thanks to a little happenstance, one sexy co-ed Allison (Katrina Bowden) bumps her head on a rock skinny dipping in the vicinity of our hapless hayseed heroes. When Dale rushes to rescue her, in the dark and foggy night, the other half-wit college kids swear they just watched their friend get kidnapped. When they try to rescue her from the “evil” Tucker and Dale, that’s when the hilarity ensues. In their efforts to save their friend, the college kids one by one `accidentally’ kill themselves off–every new death effectively blamed on our intrepid heroes. For Tucker and Dale’s part, the daft duo are absolutely horrified by the senseless carnage and assume it must be some kind of sick suicide pact.

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is s seriously one-note flick, but into that single solitary comedy of errors-set up is delivered every possible fulfilled promise. There are boatloads of bloodshed, but it’s almost all punctuated with a slapstick smack of silliness. The stunts that you can see coming are still hilarious and the ones you don’t anticipate detonate like a smart bomb against your funny bone.

The film wouldn’t work half as well if it weren’t for the “best friends forever” chemistry of leads Tudyk and Labine. Both actors–who are instantly recognizable by genre fans (even if you can’t place their names)–shouldn’t be able to blend as seamlessly into their personas as they do. It’s a testament to their skill that we believe immediately that not only are they who they say they are, but that they really have been friends for life. This instant connection really helps the audience bridge the gap between simply viewing a jokey film and actively participating in the journey that takes place on screen. It also helps us suspend disbelief a little bit easier when an unsuspected relationship between Allison and Dale begins to blossom. As the pair of “least likely’s” connect and progress very believably (even if it seems unbelievable) we can’t help but root for the crazy kids to make it out alive.

Horror comedy is hardly a venue for great characterization and development, and aside from Tucker, Dale and Allison, everyone else in the film is your requisite Friday the 13th cast of cardboard cutout kids that are destined for the business end of a sharp stake or the gnashing teeth of a good old wood chipper. But the crazy glue that holds these three leads together is something very special and that sense of camaraderie elevates Tucker and Dale far above your run of the mill gore-drenched gut buster.

4/5 Skulls