NOTE: "Tucker and Dale vs Evil" recently screened at the Dallas International Film Festival
Who would've thought a low-budget comedic horror spoof directed and written by Sally Field's son and starring a group of unknown's could be so freakin' funny. That could very well describe "Tucker and Dale vs Evil," a film that rises above other film in the horror-spoof-genre, a tough one to begin with, with a refreshing, often cheeky style and wit. With the dreck in theaters these days, it's hard to believe that this energetic, vastly engaging film has yet to find a wide, mainstream release.
Two West Virginia hillbillies, Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine) are on their way to Tucker's newly-purchased "vacation home," a run-down house full of mystery that's definitely a fixer-upper. Meanwhile, they encounter a group of college kids, including Allison (Katrina Bowden) and Chad (Jesse Moss), and a gross misunderstanding leads the kids to believe that they've captured and will murder Allison. When the kids rally to find her, it becomes an unwitting yet very macabre showdown between preps and overalls that uncovers some startling secrets and issues that we all have.
"Tucker and Dale vs Evil" is a wickedly funny spoof on horror films that's really more of a comedic, albeit very bloody, look at class warfare and judgmental attitudes. Director and writer Eli Craig (yes, Sally Field's son), in an auspicious feature film debut, goes far more than laughs than scares (there really isn't a scary moment in the film). His cheeky layout of horror film cliches rides everything from "The Hills Have Eyes" to "Friday the 13th" to "Deliverance," though the chemistry between the leads and the blood-letting provide the most fun.
Texas-born character actor Alan Tudyk and Canadian comedian Tyler Labine have some great moments together as Tucker and Dale, and their natural chemistry together highlights the film, making the bloody moments even more hilarious, including grotesque moments involving impaling and a wood-chipper (has to be seen to be believed). Also turning in a solid performance is Tom Cruise-lookalike young actor Jesse Moss, in the film's trickiest role as an imbalanced college kid; his intensity shows he can tackle a tough role with aplomb, even covered in ugly makeup the last 20 minutes of the film.
Without giving too much of "Tucker and Dale" away, the ones with the clear issues are the rich college kids, while the lovable hillbillies are the clear protagonists, overcoming class issues and attitudes we all have. Craig's movie, taken on that note, is a bit of a stretch and falters a little in achieving those ambitions. But as a comedic horror spoof it works perfectly and deserves a wider audience and a wider release, something that was only underscored by the warm reception it received when screened at the recent Dallas International Film Festival.