October 11, 2011

Movie Review: Tucker and Dale vs. Evil

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil? I am not so sure the title accurately reflects the movie, but I like it and I like the movie a whole lot more. No, it is not perfect, but it's not like any movie ever is actually perfect. This is a movie that looks to have been made for the sheer joy of making it. There is an utterly infectious element to this, especially if you are a horror veteran and like to see the genre flipped on its ear for comedic effect. I feel pretty certain that I have never seen a horror/comedy quite like this. It is a lower budget genre film than the likes of Shawn of the Dead and Zombieland, but taken with those two, you have a trio of fantastic horror/comedies that are each completely different from the other.

This is a low budget film whose release model has involved VOD and theatrical options. I had the opportunity to see this in a theater. It was at the City Cinema Village East theater in New York City. It is an old playhouse converted to a theater. The screening room I was in was one added on around the main theater, it had a nice sense of place with some of the playhouse's brick wall still showing through. On top of that, I was the only one at the showing, and that is always a fun thing. Finally, this theater has not converted to digital, so the projection was physical film, and that adds a lot of personality to the experience. Aaaahhh.... nostalgic for film...

The movie opens your typical group of annoying college kids heading out into the woods. They are having your typical annoying conversations that only kids in movies have, until they discover they forgot the beer. At the same time, they are passed by a beat up old pick up truck, which slows just enough for the two hillbilly looking guys to peer creepily over to them in their SUV. This freaks the kids out as they immediately identify the two as psycho-killers and a pair that should probably be avoided.

It turns out that these two are just a couple of redneck friends heading out to their fixer-upper new summer cabin to have some fun, drink beer, and do some fishing. What follows is a series of monumental misunderstandings, impetuous actions, and a revelation that no one saw coming.

The story is based on a pretty simple concept. It is a concept that could fall as easily as a house of cards should they let things get out of hand or take things for granted. That does not happen here. First time director Eli Craig steers everything with a steady hand and a firm grasp of what he is trying to do. It also doesn't hurt that Alan Tudyk (Tucker) and Tyler Labine (Dale) have an easy and strong comedic chemistry. It i very easy to buy them as best buds who are a little on the clueless side.

I don't want to give away the things that happen, but I will say that despite a couple of drags, there are plenty of laughs, a healthy dose of blood, and more fun than you can shake a severed leg at. This is a movie that uses its concept to the fullest extent and the end result is just a lot of fun.

I am sorry if my description of the film is a bit lax, you will be thanking me when you see the movie. It is funny just thinking about it and I am amazed that no one has tried to do it before. It is a great idea, what if those crazy rednecks out in the woods weren't actually killers? We are so familiar with this sort of element in the horror world that it is easy to accept them as psychos. So, the examination of them from the other side can be a fascinating excursion, a classic "What If...?" Toss in some blood and laughs and you are all set.

Now, as good as Labine and Tudyk are, there are some notables in the supporting cast. Chief among them is Katrina Bowden, better known as Cerie on 30 Rock. She plays Allison, the girl whose fall into the lake is a key triggering point for the whole plot, and is nice unconventional foil for the bumbling duo. There is also  Jesse Moss as alpha male Chad, he is just completely over the top.

The bottom line is that you really need to see this movie. It doesn't matter if you are into horror or comedy or both, this is a fun movie made with an undeniable energy by people who look like they had a blast making it and believed in it. Again, it is not perfect, but it gets a lot closer to it than many others that have come before. I also hope there is a sequel somewhere down the line, would love to see these guys work together again.

Highly Recommended.

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