Most of us know of those typical, clichéd horror films that feature a hillbilly or redneck character, or characters, who lives in the woods and ends up being an insane killer. You need look no further than the Wrong Turn series, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and The Hills Have Eyes for prime examples. But what if these people were simply misunderstood? What if their image had simply been tarnished by such stereotypical use of their kind? That’s exactly what Tucker & Dale vs. Evil attempts to explore.
It begins with a group of teenagers, including Allison (Katrina Bowden) and Chad (Jesse Moss) among others, going on a camping trip in the woods. We also meet Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine), two hillbillies who simply want to go to a cabin they recently bought for a summer vacation home with their plan being to fix it up while they stay there. On their way, they encounter the teenagers, but they don’t exactly make a good first impression when Tucker attempts to talk to them in an extremely awkward way.
Later on, while Tucker and Dale are fishing, they encounter the teens again when they go swimming. Allison has a bit of an accident while trying to do a dive from a rock, but luckily Tucker and Dale are there to help her out. Unfortunately, to the rest of the teens, this looks as though they are trying to kidnap her, causing them to run away. While Tucker takes gentleman-like care of Allison, the rest of the teens regroup and attempt to form a plan to “rescue” her from her “captors” with each new encounter leading to more and more misunderstandings. Will Tucker and Dale ever be able to relax in their new vacation home?
Tucker & Dale vs. Evil is a great example of a one-joke movie, which in some cases can be a tedious experience, but when the joke is told extremely well several times, it can end up being quite a treat. Here, the one joke is basically that Tucker and Dale are hillbillies that the teens mistake for being psychotic killers. Beginning with their first encounter at a convenience store, their impressions upon them certainly don’t help that conception.
Tucker, who is not much of a ladies’ man, wants to talk to Allison, and on Dale’s advice, he goes over to her and tries to strike up an awkward conversation, adding in a creepy laugh in an attempt to break the ice. This situation is not helped by the fact that he is carrying a scythe in his hands as a walking stick. So begins a series of misunderstandings that only continue to get worse and worse as the characters continue to encounter each other.
These incidents eventually escalate to the point where they get more and more gruesome. You know you’re watching a unique movie when you actually find yourself laughing at people getting killed in absurd ways. The best thing I can think of to compare it to is Sam Raimi’s classic Evil Dead trilogy, which also combined horror and comedy into an effective gross-out/laughter ratio.
The performances from the two leads hit all the right notes. Labine gives his character a great touch of sweetness as he works at opening up to Allison, showing that their perception of them was way off. Tudyk, known by many as Wash from the great, but short-lived, show Firefly, plays Dale, the brains of the two. He gets his fair share of comedic moments, a talent that he has shown us before in films like A Knight’s Tale and Death at a Funeral.
The last act of the film does slip into conventional horror film mode with a maniac trying to kill our heroes, but this is still one of the funniest films I’ve seen in a long time. I can’t recall having laughed this much at any film for awhile. Sure, it’s a one-joke movie, but that one joke is told so well, several times, that it keeps being funny. It may not be to everyone’s tastes as it does get a little gruesome, but if you’re in the mood for a good laugh then it’s definitely worth checking out.
The film is presented in 1080p with a 2:35.1 aspect ratio. The picture is sharp for the most part, though there were some points where the colors seemed too dark or washed out, however, this may have simply been due to lighting choices. The dialogue is crisp and clear allowing for both the dialogue and the score to come through clearly.
The special features on the disc include:
- Making of Tucker & Dale vs. Evil
- Tucker & Dale ARE Evil: The College Kids’ Point of View
- Commentary with Director Eli Craig, Tyler Labine, and Alan Tudyk
- HDNet: A Look at Tucker & Dale vs. Evil
- Theatrical Trailer
There really isn’t much to these special features. The first featurette is your standard “making of” that features interviews with the cast and crew talking about production, the characters, and the actors. It’s interesting to hear them talk about the different aspects, but it doesn’t really go into much depth. The HDNet featurette is basically the same thing and includes the same interview footage.
The commentary from the director and the two leads is pretty interesting. A sample of it shows that they mainly talk about different parts of the film such as the actors and shooting conditions from scene to scene. These three really seemed to have a great camaraderie as they made each other laugh a lot. I even learned that I’ve been mispronouncing Alan Tudyk’s last name ever since I first saw him in Firefly.
There are tons of storyboards for the film included which will interest anyone who likes to see how a director’s vision comes to the screen. The outtakes are not particularly funny, certainly not laugh-out-loud funny, but they are mildly amusing. The most pointless of these featurettes is the College Kids’ POV, which basically puts together some of the best parts of the film into a montage that shows us their perception of Tucker and Dale. Overall, I wish they had done a better job with these special features as the film is quite unique. It would have been neat to get more behind-the-scenes footage regarding how it was made.
To reiterate, this is one of the funniest films I’ve seen in awhile. Though the special features are a bit lacking, the film itself makes this one worth picking up. It’s a wild and crazy ride with a unique perspective. While we get inundated with so many films about hillbillies being psychotic killers, screenwriters Eli Craig and Morgan Jurgenson, both fairly new to writing, dared to tell the story from another point of view, with hilarious and entertaining results.