Magnolia Pictures // 2010 // 88 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // November 18th, 2011
Allison: "We misjudged you Dale. I'm...I'm really sorry."
Dale: "Don't be sorry, it's my fault. I should have known if a guy like me talked to a girl like you, somebody would end up dead."
One of the larger travesties of the last few years (aside of, you know, famine, poverty and general Godlessness) is the fact that first time writer/director Eli Craig's Tucker & Dale vs. Evil sat on the shelf for many years before being given a rather unceremonious dumping onto DVD and Blu-ray. The good news is horror, comedy and comedy/horror fans can finally see why there's been so much good buzz around the film. Get ready to laugh till your sides hurt or until your head explodes with Tucker & Dale vs. Evil.
When a group of pot smoking, sexually adventurous college kids head off to the West Virginian wilderness they get more than they bargain for when they meet up with Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine), two hicks who look like they could skin you alive in a woodshed. When one of the young vacationers (Katrina Bowden) accidentally trips on a rock and knocks herself unconscious, she wakes up fearful for her life in Tucker and Dale's bedroom. What Allison quickly comes to realize is that Tucker and Dale are actually two of the nicest guys you'd want to meet who just want to help reunite her with her group. Allison's friends, however, think these two men walked straight out of a horror movie and will do everything in their power to take them down so they can rescue Allison. A series of missteps and misunderstandings leads to death and dismemberment, the likes of which no one may survive.
Tucker & Dale vs. Evil is a very funny film for anyone who loves horror movies. I'm actually quite surprised that this kind of movie hasn't been made before; it takes the concepts and clichés of the horror genre -- more specifically, the slasher genre -- and turns them on their ear. While I don't think it's a perfect film by any means, the things Tucker & Dale vs. Evil gets right far outweighs what it gets wrong. I had an absolute ball with this movie and am hoping that it finds a wider audience now that Magnolia has unleashed it to the viewing public.
The movie is anchored by two highly amusing performances by the exasperated Tyler Labine (who was a gas in the canceled CW show Reaper) and a wonderfully droll Alan Tudyk (Death at a Funeral) as backwoods investors in a vacation house that could double for Ed Gein's workroom. Somehow, Labine and Tudyk make Tucker and Dale three dimensional personalities who endear themselves to the audience. Sure, they're sort of grungy and not the sharpest tools in the shed, but Tucker and Dale have big hearts and and an even bigger desire to just relax in their Evil Dead-esque vacation house. Their interaction with the rest of the actors is what makes this movie work.
If you've seen the previews for Tucker & Dale vs. Evil you know exactly what the movie's setup is: a genre reversal where the "innocent" college kids become the bad guys and the supposed "villains" are actually charming guys who just happen to look like extras from the movie Deliverance. This juxtaposition of characters gives the movie its boost -- the various ways the kids are killed and how Dale and Tucker deal with their malevolence propels the movie forward to a very gooey and hysterical climax. In a way the whole thing works like a violent and perverted episode of Three's Company; hysterical misunderstandings abound, which in turns creates enough havoc and carnage to fill three horror movies.
The fact is that this is really Labine and Tudyk's shining moment, as the rest of the actors take a backseat to their antics. Katrina Bowen (who shines on TV's 30 Rock) makes an adorable 'captive' and romantic interest for one of the men but doesn't get a chance to do much else except act cute and scream when applicable. The other standout is Jesse Moss (no stranger to horror with the indie cult hit Ginger Snaps on his resume) as Chad, the nearly psychotic college student who will stop at nothing to put an end to Tucker and Dale's supposed rampage of evil. If I have any clear complaint about the movie it's that Moss's character overplays his hand too quickly; his 'secret' storyline comes as no surprise by the time it's finally revealed.
For horror fans, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil includes all of the requisite gore and body parts required for this kind of film. Much like it's overseas cousin Shaun of the Dead, this does its best to give the characters and situations as much seriousness as it can muster. Director Eli Craig understands that comedy doesn't come out of easy gags but of watching deathly serious people making ridiculous mistakes.
Tucker & Dale vs. Evil feels like lightning in a bottle; it really shouldn't work, but somehow it does. I'm always glad to see unique movies find an audience because Hollywood thrives too much on convention and repetition; this is an original movie in a stale genre. Three hurrahs for that!
Tucker & Dale vs. Evil is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. Magnolia has done a very nice job at making sure this transfer looks good, even if a lot of it takes place during the evening. The colors are often muted or heavily under lit, so don't expect this transfer to 'pop' off of the screen. The soundtrack is presented in an aggressive but not overbearing Dolby Digital 5.1 mix in English. There are many instances where the surround sound kicks into high gear, especially when the college kids descend upon Tucker and Dale's cabin. Another nice standout is Mike Shields's amusing film score. Also included on this disc are English and Spanish subtitles.
Fans will be happy to know there are some substantial extra features on this disc, including an audio commentary with director Eli Craig and actors Tyler Labine and Alan Tudyk (the stars of the film make this commentary a rollicking good time), three featurettes ("Making of Tucker & Dale vs. Evil," "Tucker & Dale ARE Evil: The College Kids' Point of View," "HDNet: A Look at Tucker & Dale vs. Evil") that offer up a lot of standard behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with the stars, some outtakes/gag reel, almost 100 storyboards, a theatrical trailer for the film and some bonus Magnolia trailer.
Tucker & Dale vs. Evil takes the obvious and gives it a good, bloody twist. The movie is a hoot from start to finish, pleasing connoisseurs of horror movies and those who like a good belly laugh (complimented by a bucket of intestines).
Tucker & Dale vs. Evil is highly recommended if you can stomach the gratuitous violence.
Review content copyright © 2011 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Magnolia Pictures
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 88 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Outtakes/Gag Reel
* Official Site