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Tucker & Dale vs Evil - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Tucker & Dale vs Evil
Directing: B
Acting: B+
Writing: B+
Cinematography: B
Editing: B

When Tucker & Dale vs Evil started, within seconds I found myself thinking, Um, maybe I should have watched the trailer before I came to see this. All I had done was read about it -- and what I read was almost unanimously positive. And in retrospect, I'm glad I never watched the trailer, because it might very well have made me steer clear of this movie, which turned out to be pretty fun.

What's immediately apparent is the low budget. The opening scene, with a woman being filmed as she walks into a dark cabin and predictably meets a "shockingly" grim end, sets the expectation of a truly low-rent horror movie. This doesn't exactly change when we see the title card letting us know we've gone back three days, and we meet a small band of college kids on their way to go camping in the Appalachian Mountains for the weekend. They're all riding in a single car, talking like college kids do, except in a decidedly low-rent-horror-movie kind of way. The guys include at least one total douchebag and the girls all seem eager to share their cleavage.

And then we meet Tucker and Dale (Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine, both perfectly cast), the locals giving the kids an odd stare when passing them on the highway. Naturally the kids assume they're creepy psycho hillbillies.

A stop at a nearby convenience store shifts the focus. Suddenly we're hanging out with Tucker and Dale, and we see that they're just a couple of sweet guys on their way to a "vacation home" to go fishing. But by the time all of these people end up hanging out in the same general area of the woods, an escalation of misunderstandings ensue -- all the while systematically up-ending stereotypes, both of Appalachian hillbillies and of college kids.

Director and co-writer Eli Craig, here working on his first feature film, sets out to make a horror comedy, and ends up with something much more comedy than horror -- albeit a rather gruesome comedy: few people make it out of this movie alive, but at least most of the deaths are actually funny.

What Tucker & Dale vs Evil does best is exceed the expectations set by that opening scene, both in terms of the makeup -- which is impressive given the clearly low budget -- and in terms of the script, which delightfully inverts nearly every horror-movie convention. Plus, most of the acting, particularly on the part of the hillbillies, is actually nuanced. You don't usually see that in slasher films.

That said, most of the actors playing the college kids don't do as well. It's hard to say whether this was a deliberate commentary on low-budget horror movies or if B-list acting talent was all that could be found when the movie was cast. One girl, Allison, is taken in by Tucker & Dale to be tended to after an accident, and the rest of the kids assume the hillbillies intend to do horrible things to her. Katrina Bowden plays Allison like a somewhat surprisingly intelligent bimbo, but still manages not to give her any depth. (One doesn't usually ask for depth in movies like this, except that in this case we get it -- just exclusively in the hillbillies.) And she's by far the best of the college kids.

The douchebag, on the other hand, is ridiculously over-acted by Jesse Moss, who makes you want to punch him in the face -- both because of his character and because of his mugging for the camera.

Somehow, though, all this comes together to make a movie that's far from perfect -- and it feels deliberately so -- and yet somehow it works. It's almost America's answer to Shaun of the Dead, just not quite as clever. But it's clever enough. You have to have a pretty twisted sense of humor to get a kick out of a movie like this, but if you do, then you will.

Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine unwittingly create and battle evil all at once in TUCKER & DALE VS EVIL.

Overall: B
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