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Tucker and Dale vs. Evil

Eli Craig’s Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is a sometimes clever, but mostly rote, horror comedy that takes the “kids going out to the cabin in the woods and facing hillbilly homicidal maniacs” genre of horror and subverts the entire concept to sometimes funny but in the end, tiring results.  On the film’s face, it’s a one note joke stretched out to feature-length and, unfortunately, that would be correct.  While the film’s two amicable leads, Tyler Labine and Alan Tudyk, give great comedic performances and have a great easygoing chemistry to their back and forth, the rest of the film hangs on a clever concept that is quickly diminished as the film goes along.

Tudyk and Labine play Tucker and Dale, two hillbillies looking to spend a relaxing weekend at their dilapidated vacation cabin.  Concurrently, a group of hot, young, nubile college students arrive in the woods for a fun weekend of camping that no actual college student has ever actually done.  Through an escalating series of misunderstandings, the college kids mistake Tucker and Dale for homicidal maniacs and begin attacking the hapless duo.

Much of the strength of the film comes from its first act in the way it subverts expectations.  Any horror fan knows these tropes backwards and forwards from the creepy hillbilly with the warning of evil to the moronic college kids acting as nothing more but meat puppets to be eventually slaughtered to the pre-conceived notions of rednecks and hillbillies.  The way the film plays with those tropes and amps up the comedic tension through this first half is great but the seeds for the lackluster third act reveals and climax are readily apparent.  In fact, they are so readily apparent it seems disingenuous to even call it a twist.

While the first half or so of the film plays with the tropes with deft comedic skill and an escalating series of humorous deaths, the film devolves into the very thing its mocking.  Eventually, there is an actual homicidal maniac and the boy gets the girl and so on and so on.  The film hits a point where it decides to hit every single point that it is no longer mocking but rather actively taking part in the clichés and tropes that it spent its first half mocking.  If there was any sense of admiration for the genre within that first half, maybe the latter half wouldn’t sink so far but the film lands with a thud never achieving much in the way of laughs or scares as the film comes to a close.  It’s a shame because the film starts so strongly and Tudyk and Labine are game and quite good throughout but the script fails in delivering a second half worthy of its set up.

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One response to “Tucker and Dale vs. Evil

  1. Pingback: TUCKER & DALE VS. EVIL « Written in Blood

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