It is a shame the trailer gives away the hook for Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil. I was lucky enough to see this film unfettered by expectations, and thoroughly enjoyed watching reveal after reveal. It reminded me a little bit of an excellent short film I saw a couple of years back, Auburn Hills Breakdown (read our review here), in that (spoiler…) a seemingly insane and murderous backwoods family are actually the "normal" ones in a scary scenario.
So, that's the twist that's revealed everywhere from YouTube to Timbuktu. But even if you know what's going to happen, Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil is still pure fun.
The comedy of errors begins when harmless hayseed Dale (Tyler Labine) takes a shine to a gorgeous young camper, and his best bud Tucker (Alan Tudyk) talks him into going up and talking to her. Only problem is, Dale in his nervousness adopts a maniacal giggle and forgets that he just happens to be holding a razor-sharp scythe. (All of this, of course, happens at a lonely country gas station, with the rednecks' rusty pickup truck parked nearby.) Allison (Katrina Bowden) and her friends are quickly convinced that they're being stalked as prey… they're not, but they do begin to die, one by one, in various and grisly ways.
Meanwhile, Tucker and Dale are convinced that these crazy kids have come to the woods to off themselves in some sort of a suicide pact. All they want is to be left in peace in their summer vacation home (i.e., rundown cabin in the sticks), but that is not to be as the college students fall into a wood-chipper, get impaled on handy branches, shoot, and otherwise accidentally maim or kill themselves.
The set-up and story is cute and fun (while also managing to be awfully gory and suspenseful at the same time), but it's the leads who really make Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil resonate in the memory. Bowden is genuinely likeable even in her beauty and perfection, while Labine and Tudyk display an easy camaraderie which belies the fact they were not friends for years and years prior to being cast.
Add technical marvel to the heart of the tale — Eli Craig's deft direction and DP David Geddes' effortless-looking yet admirably complex shots — and you have a rare treat: a horror/comedy with heart and style.
Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson
Enjoy these brand new clips from the film, which opens in theaters on September 20, 2011