It’s been a while since I’ve seen a true horror/comedy. This subset of the horror genre seems to have drifted away in favor of straight parody, and it’s a sadder world for it. Enter Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil, a comedy with enough blood and gore to rival even the slashiest of slasher films. Made on a shoe-string budget and taking 18 months to actually get a release the film is finally being let out in theaters this week, but you can also watch it in the comfort of your home with OnDemand (Note: the director doesn’t advise this).
I know what you’re thinking. 18 months to get a distributor? The movie can’t actually be that good. Movie studios are large, dumb corporations, but one of them would have been bright enough to pick up a quality comedy/horror. Well, movie studios are dumber than you think.
Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil
Director: Eli Craig
Release Date: 9/30/2011
The key to a good comedy/horror film that isn’t an all out parody like the Scary Movie series is that if you took out the horror you’d have a good comedy and if you took out the comedy you’d have a good horror (or in this case slasher), but when you put them together you’ve got a better thing all around. Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil is that better thing. With just the right balance of comedy, blood and homages to older horror films (Evil Dead 2) especially the movie definitely achieves its goals, but calling it a true horror/comedy classic will depend on how much traction it picks up. The pieces are there, but I’m not sure it hits it’s marks well enough to actually make it.
Like any good horror film Tucker and Dale‘s conceit is entirely based on the idea that teenagers/college kids are complete and total idiots. However, this time around it’s not because they walk into the bad guy’s house screaming loudly, it’s because they think that two rednecks are psychotic killers simply because they’re rednecks. See Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine) are two friendly rednecks who just bought a rundown cabin in the woods, which just happens to be really creepy and also near to where a group of college kids is camping. After hearing a scary story about how some psychopaths used to live in the woods the kids go skinny dipping near where Tucker and Dale are night fishing. That’s when Allison (Katrina Bowden) slips into the water and almost drowns, but Tucker and Dale save her. However, her friends, seeing this from a distance, assume that Tucker and Dale have kidnapped her and are murdering psychopaths.
After this the group systamatically attempt to “rescue” Allison accidentally killing themselves off in horribly gruesome ways while Tucker and Dale try to figure out why a group of college kids is brutally committing suicide around them. What ensues is a blood covered laugh fest that drenches the screen in red and had the audience I was watching with laughing all over the place. You definitely have to get past the fact that the plot itself would be over in about ten seconds in reality once one of the teens actually said a single word, but once you do there’s little complain about.
Tudyk and Labine are simply superb together on screen, and actually out shine most of the rest of the cast. Luckily they’re on screen for most of the film. The two actors play off each other wonderfully with Tudyk’s slight aggravated Tucker balancing out the over-the-top comedy of Labine. It’s great to see two comic actors work so well together in a movie and when you realize that their interactions are funnier than most of the already funny site gags you know that you’re in for a very solid comedy. Tudyk’s facial expressions at some points nearly had me on the floor laughing.
As the film winds down, however, some cracks in the concept start to show. The final conclusion between Dale and his new archnemisis is actually very solid, but there’s an almost forced theme running through the entire film about not judging people at face value that crops up way too heavily at the end of the movie. Not that this invalidates any of the hour and half of comedy that you’ve experienced throughout the film, but it would have been better if the movie simply fully committed to its comedy/horror/romance roots and ignored the social message. A bit of an overreach, but one that doesn’t ruin a fantastic comedy in any way.
What I can’t figure out is why it took so long for this movie to get out there. It’s an easy crowd pleaser with its humor, heart and guts. It’s a fantastic excuse to watch a midnight screening with tons of other horror fans who are excited for it. It’s way better than most of the horror or comedy films that have landed in the past 18 months. And it doesn’t suck. Whatever the reasons I’m glad Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil is here now.