Tucker & Dale vs. Evil – 2010
Directed by Eli Craig
Starring Taylor Labine, Alan Tudyk, Katrina Bowden, Jesse Moss
Written by Craig and Morgan Jurgenson
There is a subtlety to the acting of Taylor Labine and Alan Tudyk, who as Dale and Tucker provide one half of the adversarial title of this film, that is a genuine pleasure to watch. The other half, which is not as much evil as a series of horrible misunderstandings, is not nearly as subtle, but almost as pleasurable. Tucker and Dale are two good intentioned hicks, who, after somehow buying a “vacation home” out in the boondocks, are going to take their first vacation there. At the same time, the usual group of college kids, looking for a place to party, have meandered to the same region. Told from the perspective of the college kids, this is a script that would write itself. Placed in the able hands of Eli Craig, however, the tale is turned sideways and is one funny movie.
It takes the obligatory meet at the last stop for 100 miles store up in the country and begin the wheels of motion for the kids, who misinterpret what it is and who they are seeing and then carries those errors in judgement to some wickedly gruesome results. It’s as if someone took the entire script from Shark Night and threw it in the hands who understood horror and satire.
The key to the success of the film is in the relationship of Tucker and Dale. Their relationship definitely has the hint of having existed off camera. One really doesn’t ever expect the level of camaraderie and obvious affection from your two hillbilly leads in your basic horror film, but somehow they fit it in. I have been a fan of Tudyk since his days on Firefly, through last year’s Transformers: Dark of the Moon, where he was the lone actor worth watching. Labine, I had never noticed before, even though his résumé is filled with stuff I have seen. After his performance here, I will be noticing him more in the future.
So good was Labine’s performance that one could almost buy the interactions between he and his love interest, Allison (Bowden). It was surprising to find the level of Bowden’s skill in pulling this off as well. This acting skill is not the kind one expects to see in a slasher film.
While I can’t say the rest of the cast was all that great, I would say that they performed as intended for the most part. Their job was to get hacked, gouged, slashed, chopped, burned and ground down, and they do this with aplomb. Just to be clear, though, the wood chipper scene is the absolute standout.
This is the kind of film that is not forgotten by any fan of the genre. Unlike the crap released on an almost weekly basis (Wrong Turn 15, anyone?), this movie has a purpose beyond showing carnage. In this purpose, it generally succeeds.
(***1/2 out of *****)