Scary Movie, eat your bloody heart out – Tucker and Dale are here to show you how horror movie spoofs should really be done. Hacking apart slasher conventions with palpable (and palpitating) glee, Tucker And Dale Vs. Evil is a loving tribute made by slasher fans for slasher fans.
When a group of pretty college kids go on a trip to the woods (no, really, stay with it), they’re creeped out by a pair of sinister-looking hillbillies. Except Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine) are just regular Joes with their own everyday problems – which are only worsened when said college kids keep stumbling upon ingenious ways of accidentally offing themselves. Naturally, Tucker and Dale are the prime suspects.
As gory as a dinner party massacre and as sharp as Freddy’s fingerblades, it’s hard to believe that Tucker And Dale Vs. Evil is director Eli Craig’s first time behind the camera. It’s to his credit, then, that the film’s punchline plot retains much of its power to thrill throughout. Shot like a straight-faced horror, Tucker And Dale brings both the splatter and the giggles as wrong-place-wrong-time hilarity piles up in a big squelchy heap.
Much hinges on the pairing of Tudyk and Labine as the titular misunderstoods, and both knock it out of the park in roles that could have been little more than conduits for post-modern cleverness. Together, they give lived-in, endearing performances that stop the blood-splattered good times from ever tripping into lousy Scary Movie pastiche.
The only place that T&D stumbles is in its final stretch, when it attempts to bring things home by mixing in an out-there twist with a chivalrous endeavor on Dale’s part to save final girl Allison (Katrina Bowden, pitch perfect) from the clutches of a real-life serial killer. It’s here, during a Bondian confrontation that feels like part of another spoof, that T&D loses its initial innocent charm.
Still, a movie that features Tudyk doing a laugh-out-loud impression of Leatherface is easy to love, and T&D is just that – an instant horror favourite that has a brain in its skull and a tongue in its cheek. About as much fun as you can have watching college co-eds get variously impaled, diced and set on fire. 4/5