It’s been about 2 years since I saw the trailer for “Tucker & Dale vs Evil.” It premiered at Sundance in early 2010, but it’s theatrical release isn’t until September 30th 2011. Even with a plethora of positive reviews and a solid concept, it has taken a long time for this film to see the light of day. Thanks to Magnet Studios we now have access to “Tucker and Dale vs Evil.” I am a fan of Magnet thus far because they also showed the world “Hobo with a Shotgun”, “I Saw the Devil”, and “Troll Hunter.” Anyway, we went off the rails a bit, so lets talk about what I’ve been excited about for almost 2 years.
“Tucker & Dale vs Evil” is about two good hearted hillbillies, Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine), that are mistaken for murdering psychopaths by a group of incompetent college kids. Tucker and Dale are vacationing at Tucker’s cabin for a weekend of cleaning up and fishing. One of the more rational college students, Allison (Katrina Bowden), gets knocked out in a swimming accident. Tucker and Dale go to her rescue and her friends misconstrue their heroism as kidnapping. From then on, Tucker and Dale are kind hosts for Allison while her friends accidentally kill themselves attempting to save her. It was incredibly hard to efficiently describe what this movie is about.
The entire film is a twist on the slasher genre and once that hook is revealed the movie flows wonderfully. The first twenty minutes drag a bit and most of the jokes fall flat, but without those first twenty minutes the payoff won’t be as substantial. It’s a brave move on the filmmakers part.
The innocence of Tucker and Dale versus the absurdity of the college students is what makes this film. Tyler Labine gives Dale a pleasant subtly that could have easily been obnoxiously over the top while Alan Tudyk gives Tucker a rightfully confused alpha male mentality. The antagonist of this film becomes Chad (Jesse Moss) from the group of college kids. He becomes so intent on killing Tucker and Dale that he himself becomes what he despises the most.
As violent as the film may be it is a fairly lighthearted affair. Dale attempting to break out of his self depreciating shell and win the heart of Allison is down right adorable. The film’s humor is more of a bloody version of looney tunes. The gore is so over-the-top and goofy that it dilutes the disturbing scenarios. As far as vulgarity goes, this film is pretty tame. In all the ridiculousness, I don’t think the “F word” is ever muttered…fuck. This review is now more vulgar than this movie.
As delightful as the concept and performances are this story isn’t actually airtight. You’ll question some of the characters when they seem to be acting on the will of the punchline instead of obvious logic. Also, the third act is no where near as charming and clever as the second. Seeing the college kids effortlessly kill themselves and Tucker and Dale attempting to understand what’s happening is priceless. Once Chad gets the upper hand and Tucker and Dale have a grasp on their predicament, the film loses some of its touch. The third act is still well made and exceedingly entertaining, but the second act is incredibly well done. If the film kept that momentum, this may have been the slasher version of “Shaun of the Dead.”
All in all “Tucker & Dale vs. Evil” is hilarious and shockingly sweet. It may not be the perfectly crafted slasher comedy it appears to be, but it comes damn close. It should be ridiculous enough to please the slasher fans, and it seems fun and pleasant enough to entertain a general audience. This may be the first slasher film that I will recommend to my mom. She’ll like Dale.