Tucker and Dale vs Evil (2010)
Horror cinema’s most common and terrifying villain may not be the vampire or even the zombie, but the hillbilly. The Hills Have Eyes, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Deliverance and hundreds of others both play upon and solidify urban dwellers’ paranoia about good country folk. The generous, giddy Tucker and Dale vs. Evil lampoons that dread with good natured humor and a couple of rubes you can root for.
In the tradition of Shaun of the Dead, T&DVE lovingly sends up a familiar subgenre with insightful, self-referential humor, upending expectations by taking the point of view of the presumably villainous hicks. And it happens to be hilarious.
Two backwoods buddies (an endearing Tyler Labine and Alan Tudyk) head to their mountain cabin for a weekend of fishing. En route they meet some college kids on their own camping adventure. A comedy of errors, misunderstandings and subsequent, escalating violence follows as the kids misinterpret every move Tucker and Dale make.
Director Eli Craig’s clever role reversal screenplay, co-written with Morgan Jurgenson, recreates the tension-building scenes that have become horror shorthand for “the hillbillies are coming.” From the bait and tackle/convenience store encounter with bib overall clad townies, to the campfire retelling of likeminded teens lost forever in the wooded abyss, the set up is perfect.
Each punchline offers the would-be killers’ innocent point of view – expressing their increasingly baffled take on what appears to them to be a suicide pact among the coeds.
T&DVE offers enough spirit and charm to overcome most weaknesses. Inspired performances and sharp writing make it certainly the most fun participant in the You Got a Purty Mouth class of film.