Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil (2011)

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

  

Starring: Alan Tudyk, Tyler Labine, Katrina Bowden, Jesse Moss, Phillip Granger, Brandon Jay McLaren, Christie Lang, Chelan Simmons, Travis Nelson, Alex Arsenault, Adam Beauchesne, Joseph Sutherland.
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Director: Eli Craig
Rating: R

Running Time: 88 Minutes
Release Date: September 30, 2011
Home Video Release Date: Nov. 29, 2011
Box Office: $224 Thousand
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Reliance Big Pictures, Loubyloo Productions, Eden Rock Media, Gynormous Pictures, Kintop Pictures, Urban Island, Alberta Film Development Program, National Bank of Canada TV & Motion Picture Group, T&D Productions, and Magnet Releasing.

Written by: Eli Craig and Morgan Jurgenson.

 

“Hidy-Ho Officer…We have had…one…doozy of a day!” – Tucker (Alan Tudyk)

Goofy, comical, and full of more graphic killings than you could ever imagine, Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil is a surprisingly rich and hilarious comedy of horrors which take place in the Appalachian Mountains in West Virginia and is one of the only horror films I can recall that deals with mistaken identity and soars on the back of a plot dealing with grave and life-ending misunderstandings.  Directed by first-time director Eli Craig (son of Oscar-winning actress Sally Field), Tucker & Dale Vs. Evilis a film undoubtedly headed for cult status as it retains an ability of being watchable over and over again and is really well put together.

Craig, who also wrote the screenplay with Morgan Jurgensen, has a keen sense of timing, set up, and execution.  He begins the film with a clichéd beginning – a group of college students are heading for a camping trip in the woods and encounter two hillbillies who are intimidating and frighten the group.  The hillbillies, Tucker and Dale (Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine, respectively) are heading into the same woods for an entirely different reason, which we learn, but the college students do not.  Tucker has just bought a dilapidated old cabin and he and Dale are heading up to spend the weekend to renovate the cabin and turn it into their dream vacation home.

Yep.  A vacation home.  You see it turns out that Tucker and Dale are mild-mannered, kind-hearted, even tender souls who would never intend to hurt anyone.  And therein lies the easy fun of Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil.  The college students act on assumptions, Tucker and Dale are alarmed, and the college students begin picking themselves off accidentally one by one, with all signs pointing to Tucker and Dale as being responsible for the murders.

A Canadian production, Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil made a festival run in 2010 and sat for a really long time before receiving a U.S. theatrical release in September 2011.  Unless you are well versed on Canadian-based TV and film projects, you are not likely to recognize many of the young actors and actresses assembled here.  Minus Tudyk (DodgeBall, the original Death At A Funeral) and perhaps Katrina Bowden (TV’s “30 Rock”), the only other actor recognizable here is Tyler Labine, who recently had a prominent featured role in 2011’s Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes.  Notably, the three different actors all form a unique bond on screen, which makes this much more entertaining than any recent horror film, or horror comedy film, I have personally encountered.

Director Eli Craig is clearly talented, innovative, and thinking outside of the box with Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil.  While there are those who will be unable to handle the rambunctious portions of blood and gore served up alongside their comedy, others will simply delight in the self-awareness and ridiculousness of the blood-soaked deaths which escalate in gonzo originality one after the other after the other.  But to hang with and commit to this film is a wise choice, because it is uproariously funny at times and for most of its running time, stays fresh and original.

Anchoring the film are two strong comedic performances from Tudyk and Labine, who settle in nicely to their roles as the misunderstood hillbillies.  In saving one of the college students from an all but certain drowning, Tucker & Dale are kind enough to offer her pancakes and let her stay in their cabin, no questions asked.  That student (the aforementioned Bowden) soon realizes that Tucker & Dale simply mean well and are nice and kind souls, becoming an ally and an advocate in trying to make peace with a group of friends who are convinced that these two men are bloodthirsty savages.

Clever in its originality, Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil may not be the movie you trot out for the family to watch when everyone’s together, but it is nonetheless a nice beginning to Eli Craig’s directorial career.  With some of the more original and outlandish deaths captured on screen, Craig flips the formulaic elements found in horror comedies and horror movies in general.  Craig and co-screenwriter Morgan Jurgensen somehow found a way to invigorate and refresh the horror film genre for this brisk and fast-paced 88-minute feature film.

While it becomes a bit tiresome in the final 15 minutes or so, fumbling its way back into an exposition-heavy horror film explanation sequence, Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil succeeds on the novelty of unpredictability, a nod-and-a-wink storytelling approach, and frankly, blood-stained charm.  I had a lot of fun watching Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil and if not laughing or trying to determine where, when, or how the next death would be coming from, I enjoyed my time with these two backwoods West Virginia hillbillies a great deal.  Chances are, if you are still reading this review and have made it this far in learning about the film, you will likely find a lot to enjoy here as well

Should I See It?

YES

Horror comedy fans rejoice!  Finally arriving on home video after more than 18 months in the festival circuit, Tucker & Dale are now available for house parties with your friends.  In all honesty, this is the type of film I would have loved to have had available at a house party with a bunch of high school and college friends on hand.

Those who are fans of Alan Tudyk’s comedic abilities will find him playing another comedic creation quite well and with great zeal.  Tyler Labine is also worth noting for his great comedic sensibilities as well.

Tons of blood and gore yes, but curiously easy to watch.  If you know what you are getting, the over-the-top ridiculousness of this all will go down much easier than you might anticipate.

NO

And yet, there is so much blood – over-the-top and ridiculous as it all is, those with a squeamish stomach will likely not last all that long with this.

The film is essentially one-note all the way through.  This can grow tiresome for people who may not find the misunderstood hillbilly and overly anxious college student angle funny or the slightest bit interesting.

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