“We continue comedy week with “Tucker and Dale vs. Evil.” “Tucker and Dale vs. Evil” is brilliant. It is the intelligent kind of horror comedy that sadly does not happen often enough and does a brilliant critique of the assumptions the horror genre often makes about people, as well as even giving us a villain with a great motivation. There is honestly very little bad about this film, and I’ll get into the specifics why further down.
The film was directed and written by Eli Craig who came up with the original story, and the other co-writer of the screenplay was Morgan Juergenson. The film was produced by Morgan Jurgenson, Albert Klychack, Rosanne Miliken and Deepak Nayer.
The premise of the story is that Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine) are heading up to the Appalachians to go to their summer home that they’ve been saving up for years. Along the way the run into some college kids who see them as dangerous hicks and treat them savagely when they treat to reach out and say hello. Miscommunication and death ensue when one of the college woman named Allison (Katrina Bowden) falls into the lake when the college kids are all skinny dipping. When Tucker and Dale rescue her, the unstable leader of the college kids named Chad (Jesse Moss) sees it as personal and seeks to destroy Tucker and Dale. From here the story unfolds.
The Pros: The Premise – The premise is brilliant! Take the guys who are rural country boys and are usually the killers in the wilderness (“The Hills Have Eyes,” “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” etc.) and make them the heroes! This was the smartest thing about the premise, also making Allison, who is a blond college student the smartest out of everyone was a great move too. She’s the one who gets past her prejudice and reveals Chad to be the true person filled with hate and the psychopathy. The premise works as well because we see a reporter killed by a scarred man in the cabin Tucker and Dale are going to at the beginning and early on Chad tells us the story of a massacre that happened in the hills setting the stage for the fear of hill billy killers.
The Soundtrack – Michael Shields and Andrew Kaiser did a great job on the soundtrack. I don’t like country music generally speaking, but it was used beautifully in this soundtrack.
The writing – Eli Craig and Morgan Jurgenson wrote a script where characters actually change, has a message and a point and is hilarious. To achieve all these things is difficult in general, in a comedy, even more-so,
The Cinematography – The cinematography is beautiful, with foggy scenes, trees that look like spears and limbs and Tucker and Dale’s house looks haunted, as does the woodshed that appears later. The scenes are presented in such a way to create good tension too that only progresses as the stakes rise. David Geddes did great.
The Comedy – The comedy is wonderful dark comedy! The college kids all kill themselves trying to kill Tucker and Dale and most of what happens because of miscommunication because the college kids are so full of fear because of the warning from the cop and Chad’s horror story. This leads to them attacking Tucker and Dale who are fixing up the place and accidents ensuing from the forest and equipment around the house, like the wood grinder grinding one of the kids and a loose beam killing the cop. Tucker and Dale are powerless through most of it as they just want to Allison to be okay and to be left alone.
The Main Characters – All of the main characters are given a lot of depth and complexity making them a joy to watch. Beyond how well the script was, that was a big part of what kept me watching.
Chad – Chad is the sociopathic leader of the fraternity who was raised by his grandparents because his mother was institutionalized after the Memorial Day Massacre which is the horror story he describes of the hill billies who raped his mother and killed his father and their friends. It turns out his father was a hill billy too and this is too much for him to take as he filled with so much hate already. He’s never likable as he creeps on Allison all the time and uses people and only sees life as survival of the fittest. He is from the beginning what he hates most, a person ready to kill for no reason beyond enjoyment. He gets defeated but escapes and is the one who kills the reporter in current day when she’s exploring Tucker and Dale’s house. He’s officially become the monster and evil. Jesse Moss plays a good monster.
Tucker – Alan Tudyk has so much range! This film really showed it where he is the rural country boy who is all country and keeps trying to be all tough by putting his best friend Dale down. He is jealous of Dale’s and Allison’s friendship after Dale saves her life but after Dale and Allison save his life he is close to them both. He comes to respect them both and apologizes to Dale for how cruel he always was and tells him Dale should believe in himself. It’s a touching scene and after Chad takes off two of his fingers and kidnaps Allison.
Allison – I want to see Katrina Bowden in more films after this. Her character is sensitive and tough and is the smartest person out of everyone in this. She even makes progress with healing Chad beyond his prejudice before the remaining college kids ruin everything. She becomes Dale and Tucker’s friend and defends them to her college friends and in the end loves Dale. She has a great arc that is one of fear and uncertainty in herself to confidence and strength..just like Dale’s arc.
Dale – Dale is a large, shy and bearded guy who is the hero of the film. He has no confidence at first and could never harm a fly, and he never kills anyone either. He saves Allison two times and also gets saved as well and goes from a man with no confidence to someone who can stand up to Chad and fight him. He is smarter than he knows and stronger too and that’s what he realizes in his character arc. Tyler Labine brings so much depth to this role.
The Message – Don’t judge by appearances and always communicate and not give into fear is the main message in the film. All the kids kill themselves because they are trying to kill Tucker and Dale and never take the time to listen…and Chad is so full of hate he is unable to feel anything other than that. This leads to all the tragedy that ensues because the college kids didn’t take the time to get to know Tucker and Dale like Allison did. This is a great subversion of this trope in this type of horror movie too since it goes off the assumptions that you can’t trust rural country folk in the middle of nowhere and that all college kids are stupid. This film subverts all of that to create an amazing picture.
Okay: The Other College Kids – Most of the other college kids who aren’t Allison or Chad have no real motivation beyond having fun, which makes their deaths when they accidentally kill themselves (when they try to kill Tucker and Dale) just comedic. This is a shame as Allison and Chad get a lot of development and I wish the other kids could have too so their deaths would be tragic.
If you like comedy and films that are intelligent and have a point, you will probably enjoy this film. It is brilliant satire and dark comedy and has fantastic, writing, cinematography, music and writing. There is very little wrong with this film. I would check it out as the message is great at breaking down barriers between people, it has amazing comedy and a story that I could not stop watching. Definitely a favorite film.
Final Score: 9.7 / 10. One of the best comedies I’ve seen.