Horror Comedy has become an increasingly popular mix of genres, it’s a guilty mix of the horrific and the hilarious. I’ve reviewed a couple horror comedies before ( Scream and Cabin in the Woods) so I suppose I have a soft spot for them. This movie was recommended to me by Ryan Partlow and turned out to be one of the biggest surprises I’ve watched in recent months. Tucker and Dale vs Evil is heavier on the comedy than the horror, but not by much. It offers almost non-stop jabs at the horror franchise, particularly the horror movies featuring backwoods hillbilly families and the slasher genre. Despite its flippant disregard for human life, the movie caters to the serious issue of prejudices and jumping to conclusions…and then splatters blood over the whole ordeal.
Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine play Tucker and Dale, respectively. They’re a pair of best friends who have just purchased a dingy cabin in the woods near a lake. Tucker and Dale are two well meaning gentlemen that happen to fit almost every stereotype associated with hillbillies, with the exception that they are not murderous idiots, quite the contrary, they’re nice and intelligent men. It just so happens that a rowdy group of college kids planned a camping trip at the very same lake where Tucker and Dale intend to spend the weekend fishing and working on renovating their recently acquired cabin and the surrounding property. Misunderstandings and accidental deaths abound leaving the Tucker and Dale far more afraid of the situation than the college kids.
Part of the Beauty of Tucker and Dale is the reversal here. The movie is shown from the perspective of the backwoods hicks. They save a woman from drowning and it, for all intents and purposes, looks like they’ve knocked her out and kidnapping her. The downward spiral is made up of horror movie winks and nods consisting of a chainsaw and wood-chipper. The physical gags and spot on timing make this feel like The Three Stooges of the horror genre.
The benefit that this movie had over most of the horror genre was the level of quality. It was created with the quality of a high end horror movie, but far surpassed most in almost every way. It’s bloody and gruesome just like a horror movie, but the humor is so dead on that, despite the blood and the atmospheric music, you can’t help but laugh. This is certainly the intention of all those involved.
I also need to mention how impressed I was with Alan Tudyk in this movie. I never realized his talent for character acting. I enjoyed him in A Knights Tale and Serenity, and A Knights Tale but it wasn’t until this movie that I realized just how drastically different the roles he plays in each of them until I saw him in this equally different role. The college kids in this movie are cliche and over the top, which is part of the joke, but the two leads are believable. Tucker and Dale are rednecks, to be sure, but it isn’t the over the top cartoonish depiction that is all too familiar.