Synopsis: Tucker & Dale are on vacation at their dilapidated mountain cabin when they are attacked by a group of preppy college kids
Every year I like to delve into a mix of horror films to get me in the mood for Halloween. Usually this consists of a gooey blend of old classics and stuff I’ve yet to see. Now I am no horror aficionado, and nor will I pretend to be. But I do like to be scared, or at the very least grimmace, every now and again. To open up my horror watching this year I decided to finally watch Tucker & Dale vs Evil, a film that had been staring at me from my Netflix queue since last Halloween. I wanted something splatty but funny. As a fan of Alan Tudyk I already had one foot in the door.
Tucker (Alan Tudyk) & Dale (Tyler Labine) are two socially awkward, hillybilly looking best friends on their way to do some fishing and enjoy the peace and quiet of Tucker’s new log cabin. Also on their way to the woods are a group of college kids who make up every cliche from every horror film ever. When they see Tucker & Dale at the gas station on the way to the woods they assume they are creepy hillbillies, rather than the sweet guys they really are. Unfortunately for Tucker and Dale when they rescue one of the group (Katrina Bowden) from drowning the rest of them, of course, naturally assume Tucker & Dale have kidnapped her and they are all next. What ensues is 75 minutes of funny and well constructed accidents to off the kids in a series of ways to pay homage to the tropes of the horror genre. All the while Tucker & Dale, the two biggest tropes of all, just want to fish and stop having people kill themselves on their property.
Along with Drew Goddard/Joss Whedon horror parody mash up Cabin In The Woods, Tucker & Dale… is one of the funniest and smartest takes on the horror genre I have seen for years. It benefits from having at it’s core two sweet and likable characters who are entirely misunderstood because they look a certain way, and a cast of college kids so unlikable you can’t wait for them to get offed. There are also some lovely homages to classic horror cinema, including a brilliantly constructed Texas Chainsaw scene involving a swarm of bees. Like Cabin In The Woods it plays, tongue firmly in cheek, to the tropes of the hillbilly slasher genre that has become over-saturated and dull in recent years.
The back and forward between Tudyk and Levine is great and there are some laugh out loud moments from the outset. Equally Katrina Bowden rises above the 2D love interest and has obviously had some Tina Fey rub off on her (giggidy) through her time at 30 Rock. It is a comedy horror though and it delivers just the right amount of splatter to make you cringe, including the best wood chipper incident since Steve Buscemi got mulched in the snow. Would make a great triple bill with Cabin In The Woods and Zombieland.
Conclusion: A smart, funny and lovingly self referential way to start the festive season
Cast: Alan Tudyk, Tyler Levine, Katrina Bowden