Director: Eli Craig
Cast: Tyler Labine, Alan Tudyk, Katrina Bowden, Jesse Moss, Chelan Simmons
Screenplay: Eli Craig, Morgan Jurgenson
89 mins. Rated R for bloody horror violence, language and brief nudity.
There are a lot of misconceptions about horror and comedy. They are similar in a lot of ways but in order to meld the two, you don’t just make fun of horror elements. That isn’t how it works. Effective horror comedy comes from playing the comedic moments as seriously as possible, as if the characters are just in a regular horror film. Few films are able to master the art. One that does is 2010’s Tucker and Dale vs. Evil.
Tucker (Alan Tudyk, TV’s Con Man, I, Robot) and Dale (Tyler Labine, TV’s Deadbeat, Rise of the Planet of the Apes) have one goal in mind: to enjoy their new vacation home, an aesthetically unpleasant cabin in the woods. But when a group of foolish college students mistakes them for monstrous murdering hillbillies, this tale of mistaken identity is about to go off the rails. Dale comes across injured swimmer Allison (Katrina Bowden, TV’s 30 Rock, Nurse) and rescues her. Chad (Jesse Moss, Final Destination 3, Extraterrestrial), who wants Allison for himself, believes them to be kidnapping her for their twisted pleasures and mounts a rescue mission, but these college students are rather clumsy, and as they accidentally die, Tucker and Dale seem to be at fault. This tale of judgment and mistaken assumption culminates in one of the more interesting horror comedies in recent years.
Gosh, not enough people have seen Tucker and Dale vs. Evil and that’s a damn shame. Folks, this movie is on Netflix. You’re already paying to watch it. First of all, our two leads are terrific. Tudyk and Labine play off each other so well. Add in Katrina Bowden, who does a fairly convincing performance as the attractive Allison, a woman who would never have anything in common with our Reddest-of-Neck leads. The other cliche college brats are worthy enough but don’t really get enough time to conjure up a real character. That being said, this movie isn’t really about them. It’s about Dale and Tucker and their quest to enjoy their lovely vacation home.
Director Eli Craig gave his actors free range to build their characters, and it’s one of the reasons that they are as enjoyable as they seem. His focus on turning the genre on its head works to wonders here, even if the ending falls apart a bit. Altogether, though, Craig does great work playing each scene for all its worth. He holds his camera on Tudyk and Labine to get the best reaction to each horrendous “accident” and pulls the uncomfortably tense moments to full effect.
As I said before, Tucker and Dale vs. Evil doesn’t finish as strongly as it starts, but all in all, this is one of the more enjoyable takes on the horror genre. Similar to Cabin in the Woods, this movie is more of a love letter to the genre as opposed to a slap in the face that some spoofs end up being. This is a worthy collection to your Halloween marathons.
-Kyle A. Goethe