Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is a 2010 horror-comedy. It follows two branching stories, with Tucker and Dale serving as our protagonists. Tucker and Dale buy a “vacation home” out in the sticks that needs a great deal of work. Meanwhile, they cross paths with Allison and her friends, who judge the pair based on them being hillbillies. Allison ends up needing to be rescued by the pair, but her friends, driven by hillbilly hater Chad, believe that the pair have kidnapped her and want to fight to get her back.
What unfolds is the horror version of a farce. While Tucker and Dale attempt to make Allison comfortable and work on their vacation home, her friends engage in increasingly absurd behavior to get her back. Each attempt ends with at least one of the group of college kids getting in a crazy situation that causes their own death. The problem being no one else witnesses the entire event, leaving them to believe that the hillbillies are picking them off one by one, using Allison as bait.
This movie is frankly one of the funniest I have ever seen. It is absurd and over the top, and isn’t dependent on making fun of the tropes in horror. Those tropes are there, without a doubt, but the entire movie isn’t a break down of those like in many meta-horror movies, nor is it a spoof like Scary Movie. Instead, Tucker and Dale introduces us to a silly slasher trash style plot but then veers off from there only to wrap back around to it later. It is clever, and it is the type of horror-comedy I like.
The story itself is not the greatest, it mostly serves as a backdrop to get us from one joke to the next; however, it is not bad either. Tucker and Dale are two very sympathetic characters, and their development and relationship is the best part of the movie next to the comedy itself.
The killer hillbilly story that persists in the background is again something you would expect to see in typical slasher trash, and it’s later appearance is probably one of the weaker points of the movie. However, this movie is sort of difficult in nature. The teens need a reason to fear Tucker and Dale, and the hillbilly killer serves as that reason. Also, the movie needed a way to end for us to have a happy ending for Tucker and Dale. So the underlying horror plot does serve a purpose, but again is the least compelling part of the movie.
Still, that’s not a bad thing. In all honesty, the comedy is so on point, and again Tucker and Dale are such great characters that the weaker parts of the movie are easily forgiven and do no damage to the overall experience. Also, once again, not bad, just weaker.
The movie is also not afraid to give horror fans a lot of blood and epic kills for us to laugh at. It is sort of this weird thing that happens with big fans of the genre where kills become a different sort of entertainment. Many slasher franchises eventually became nothing more than cool kill sequences with a weak story to get us between the two. Tucker and Dale leans into the “cool kills,” but this time, giving us permission to find them funny. You know you shouldn’t laugh at someone diving headfirst into a wood chipper (sorry spoilers), but you do, and Tucker and Dale doesn’t make you feel bad for that.
It’s not just the kills or the situation that provides comedy, but this movie is filled with some of the best lines. While the farce comes in with the overall plot and the slapstick nature of a lot of the kills, the movie is also brilliantly written with some incredibly clever and hilarious jokes.
The pacing, for the most part, is well done. The movie knows when to dive full in with the comedy and gore and also when to pull back, so the audience doesn’t desensitize. It loses it a little again with the main killer hillbilly plot but is smart enough to keep those moments brief. The vast majority of the movie is centered on Tucker and Dale and the humor therein.
So bottom line. A lot of genre fans have already seen this movie, but I highly recommend it and even say it’s worth another viewing. It is is a comedy first that embraces horror as a means to get the comedy, but there is enough balance that horror fans won’t be entirely turned off. And once again, it is not a rehash of tropes or a spoof. It is one of my favorites and always makes me laugh, which is a good thing that we need more of.