Tucker and Dale vs. Evil

At some point in everyone’s life, they find themselves with a mission. A destiny. A higher calling. I’ve just discovered mine: I must make Tucker & Dale vs Evil into a cult hit. It has all the hallmarks: limited budget; fantastic niche actors; solid laughs; quirky concept; unhelpful name; and the fact that no-one saw it in cinemas. But now it’s out on DVD and you are implored, nay, COMMANDED to buy it.

Tucker and Dale (Tudyk and Labine) are the absolute best of friends. A painfully lovable pair of hillbillies, Tucker is “good with people” and constantly trying to convince the incredibly shy Dale to have more confidence in himself (“You’ve got a good heart, and you’re not as ugly as you think you are.” You just want to just reach through the screen and give them a hug. Anyway, they’ve just bought a new vacation home: a dilapidated cabin in the woods. Cue the arrival of a group of college kids/slasher stereotypes (the slutty one, the tough one, the black one, the survivor, etc) who turn up and make all the wrong assumptions about the pair. When the would-be survivor Allison (Bowden) is saved from drowning by Dale, the teenagers see it as the start of The Hills Have Eyes and react accordingly.

A bit of a misunderstanding, but nothing too severe, until the college kids start accidentally dropping dead. Some manage to impale themselves on twigs, some accidentally shoot themselves, some manage to dive headfirst into a… well, you’ll see. As the body count starts to rise, it becomes harder and harder for our redneck heroes to explain away this “doozy of a day”, and the leader of the plucky “heros”, Chad (Moss), starts to look less and less stable.

The central conceit is very strong, essentially an expansion on the idea of “what if Jason Voorhees was just trying to return his machete to lost property?” or “what if Micheal Myers was an innocent trick or treater?” It’s supported by some truly inspired set pieces and, while the fate of many of the college kids is clear early on, the level of detail and thought that goes into making sure it looks as bad as it can be for Tucker and Dale is staggering to behold. It deftly turns every slasher and hillbilly trope on its head with such dexterity you barely notice until it starts to juggle with its feet.

The true strength of the film, though, comes from the central partnership. Tucker and Dale are both fantastically written and expertly brought to life by two of the best comedy actors working today. Plenty of lines evoke laughter, but even more evoke a sense of joy at watching these two friends interact with the world; right down the exultation on Dale’s face as he finds a six-pound jar of pickled eggs. Katrina Bowden also brings out an excellent performance as the would-be Final Girl, who turns out to be a lot smarter than her horror stereotype world imply.

I could go on singing the praises of this movie, but I don’t want to spoil too much. Just run down to your local DVDtorium and buy a copy. Then watch it with your friends and get them to buy copies. Spread the love, people. I believe we can make this film a cult hit: it deserves it.

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