A comedy/horror film is a rare hybrid, but when they work – they’re incredibly enjoyable. TUCKER & DALE VS. EVIL is one such film. It’s got plenty of blood and scares, but it’s also self-aware and surprisingly cute. The film feels fresh, and it makes great use of tired horror tropes to elicit some big laughs. It’s certainly not perfect, but it is a fun ride.
TUCKER & DALE VS. EVIL is a spoof of horror films that feature murderous hillbillies as the villains. In this film, the titular hillbillies Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine) are just misunderstood guys trying to enjoy their new vacation home – a rundown cabin in the woods. The two are socially awkward, and this inevitably leads to run-ins with a group of college kids that are convinced that the hillbillies are murderers.
It’s the incredible chemistry between Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine that makes TUCKER & DALE VS. EVIL so much fun to watch. The two are delightful, providing big laughs with even the simplest facial expressions. The charm of their characters comes from an awkward innocence, and it’s easy to root for them. Watching the two men struggle to understand why the college kids fear them so much is a riot.
The big disappointment, sadly, is the rest of the cast. The college kids are, for the most part, unforgettable horror film tropes. They aren’t memorable in the slightest. The film shoehorns Allison (Katrina Bowden), an unneeded love interest, into the plot, and it never really goes anywhere. The situation weighs the film down once the humor of the idea of pairing off a beautiful young college girl with a hillbilly wears off. Similarly, Chad (Jesse Moss) is the de facto leader of the college kids – but he’s instantly unlikeable. He’s rude, prone to outbursts of anger, and very creepy. He’s a one-note character, and he’s played so hammy that he’s easily the most unbelievable character in the film.
TUCKER & DALE VS. EVIL is essentially a comedy of errors – where the errors are accidental deaths that happen in outrageous and hilarious ways. The film quickly establishes that when someone dies, the evidence will point to the hillbillies committing a murder – even though it’s just a string of unbelievably bad luck causing the deaths. Watching Tucker and Dale struggle to understand what’s happening, and watching the college kids react to a non-existent threat, is extremely funny. It keeps the film running at a solid pace – but there comes a point where that just kind of comes screeching to a halt. The film has a climax, and a solid ending – but then it doesn’t end. It continues for another 20 minutes, and the entire tone of the film shifts. It provides answers to questions no one cares about, there’s a nonsensical action sequence, and it sidelines one of the film’s best characters. It’s a very dissatisfying ending for such a fun film.
TUCKER & DALE VS. EVIL is at its best when it’s subverting audience expectations. The premise of the film is full of promise, and although the execution isn’t perfect, it’s still a very solid film. The laughs are well-earned in this film. The film does overstay its welcome as it draws to a close, but the fun and unique premise makes TUCKER & DALE VS. EVIL worth watching.