Tucker & Dale vs. Evil,
directed by Eli Craig
(Magnet, 2010)

The tropes of the hillbilly psycho-killer have been done to death.

But never like this.

In Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, you have your basic setup for a slasher classic. A group of college kids -- of mixed genders and of questionable morals -- are partying in the woods of West Virginia where, it turns out, another group of college students was murdered some 20 years before. Nearby, a pair of backwoods hicks are settling into a creepy old shack -- their new vacation home -- filled with dust and bones and old newspaper clippings.

You just know things will go awry when the students decide to go skinny-dipping on a moonlit night. A buxom young blonde, startled by the two strangers fishing close by, falls into the water and hits her head. The hillbillies -- chums Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine) rescue Allison (Katrina Bowden) from drowning, but the sight of her unconscious body being dragged into their boat sends her friends screaming into the woods, convinced that evil deeds are afoot.

"We got yer friend!" Tucker yells after them, to no avail. So they take her back to their shack to recuperate 'til dawn, when they're sure her pals will come looking for her. They do, but it's not the kind of rescue Tucker and Dale had in mind.

What comes next is your basic teen slasher flick -- but in this case, the good-hearted rednecks are just trying to go about the business of fixing up their dream house. They are understandably bewildered when seemingly homicidal -- or maybe suicidal, it's hard to be sure -- youngsters start popping up in the woods around them.

Based largely on the strength of the writing and dead-on, deadpan performances by Tudyk and Labine, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil is a must-see movie that will have you howling. While it loses a little steam at the end, this movie turns a tired old genre on its head and does something genuinely clever and funny and, dare I say, original.

Just one warning: Don't watch the trailer 'til you've seen the movie, unless you want to see all the best scenes in advance.

review by
Tom Knapp

4 May 2013

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