In the vein of Shaun of the Dead, Tucker ' Dale is a wild, wonky tale of two hillbilly buddies trying to survive their vacation in the woods when they are mistaken for killers by a gang of college kids. Our heroes valiantly save one of the college girls from drowning but are accused of wrongdoing. The chase ensues, not treating the students too well, leaving us with a gory but hilarious tale of two hillbillies and their hearts of gold.
A confident mix of comedy and horror, Tucker & Dale Vs Evil brings together Firefly star Alan Tudyk and Reaper’s Tyler Labine as a pair of hillbillies. More to the point, they’re a pair of hillbillies who have bought themselves a secluded cabin in the middle of the woods. Anyone who’s seen even a handful of horror movies will have be more than familiar with the conventions that are being set up, and might just be settling back for a dose of the familiar.
But they don’t really get it. Instead, Tucker & Dale Vs Evil chooses to play up the comedy, thanks to writer-director Eli Craig’s very good script. It’s a screenplay that accepts and warms to the trappings of a horror movie, and then has a great deal of fun playing with them. Thus, when a bunch of students turn up in the middle of the woods, things don’t quite go the way that many will be expecting.
It’s odd that Tucker & Dale Vs Evil never really secured itself the broader theatrical exposure it deserves, because it’s a really smart film. Granted, it’s bereft of outright movie stars, but the pairing of Tudyk and Labine proves inspired, and Craig is wise enough to keep his running time nice and tight.
Tucker & Dale Vs Evil is far from the most ambitious film of recent times. But it’s certainly one of the funniest. It throws in the necessary gore quotient expected by fans of the horror genre, but delivers far more solid laughs that its relative anonymity might lead you to expect. It’s pretty much the epitome, then, of an undercover gem. --Jon Foster