It’s a comedy, it’s a horror movie, it’s a romance between two best friends, whatever you want to call it, I call it greatness!
Written By: Eli Craig & Morgan Jurgenson
Directed By: Eli Craig
Way to go Canada, that’s what I thought when looking at the Internet Movie Database page for Tucker And Dale Vs Evil. Outside of David Cronenberg, I can’t recall the last time I watched a well made horror film from Canada. I’m sure there are some out there, and I’m sure I have seen some that I simply am not remembering. But, the point I’m going for is that I was genuinely shocked that Canada has produced such a great horror film. If anything I would associate Canada with a decent independent drama output, but I was pleasantly surprised with the product they helped to finance in the form of Tucker And Dale Vs Evil.
Now that my Canadian shock is out of the way that leaves the film in general to discuss. The first time I watched Tucker And Dale Vs Evil I was blown away by what I had watched. In fact, I watched Tucker And Dale Vs Evil during last years Splatter Time Fun Fest. It wasn’t a part of those festivities, but it blew every movie I watched for that Splatter Time Fun Fest out of the water. Yes, even the much ballyhooed The Cabin In The Woods failed to impress me as much as Tucker And Dale Vs Evil. The reason for that was a simple one, both films tread the same horror terrain, but I found Tucker And Dale Vs Evil to be much smarter, funnier, and more astute in its horror observations. And hey, I absolutely love The Cabin In The Woods, so that should tell my gentle readers how highly I thought of Tucker And Dale Vs Evil after my first viewing.
Now that I am returning to Tucker And Dale Vs Evil some time later, have my thoughts changed? No, is the answer I would provide to such a question. If anything, a second viewing elevated the film even more in my estimation. What stood out to me the most on this particular viewing was how charming the two leads are. Alan Tudyk as Tucker, and Tyler Labine as Dale, exude charm and good intentions in a way that makes them so easy to root for. They play against all the classic horror hillbilly stereotypes while still staying true to the general image of the hillbilly. They are kind, nice, intelligent, friendly, and loyal. I felt bad for them as the events in the film transpired against them, and ultimately I felt triumphant right alongside them as they turned those events back in their favor. Most of all, I was impressed with how Eli Craig was able to implement the bromance trope and not have it feel disingenuous. Tucker and Dale are two guys who love each other and share a friendship that is the type of friendship that I know I would love to have ever cultivated.
The above friendship works so perfectly because of the camaraderie between Misters Tudyk and Labine. They play off of one another so well, and the film makes sure to highlight how well they work off of one another. A key moment is when the college kids have obtained a gun and are shooting at Tucker and Dale’s vacation home. Tucker is mad, and he’s taking his frustrations out on Dale. In retaliation Dale lashes out and says the one thing that he knows will hurt Tucker the most, that he doesn’t even like to fish. The look on Mr. Tudyk’s, Dale’s, face as her hears those words from Tucker, Mr. Labine, tells the ultimate truth about their friendship. Tucker is hurt, but he’s also upset that he pushed his friend so far that his friend had to lash out and hurt him. The rest of the film from that point on is essentially the story of Tucker doing everything in his power to make up for the fact that he pushed Dale so far.
Outside of the relationships and the comedy, the horror elements of Tucker And Dale Vs Evil are really something to take in. Much like The Cabin In The Woods, and unlike say Scream, Tucker And Dale Vs Evil is satirizing the horror genre while lovingly playing in the horror genre. It takes on the tropes of the slasher, the backwoods redneck, the idiot college kids, and so forth head on. It plays with said tropes, it has fun with them, it smartly comments on said tropes, but it still uses those tropes the way they would be used in a horror film. That’s the opposite of a film like Scream, which uses horror tropes to try and show how much smarter it is than your average horror movie. Tucker And Dale Vs Evil, and to a somewhat lesser extent The Cabin In The Woods, still revels in being a horror film while making fun of some of the most well known elements of the slasher subgenre of horror. The observations Tucker And Dale Vs Evil makes about horror are smart, astute, funny, but never condescending, and that makes all the difference in the world.
I’ve written a lot about Tucker And Dale Vs Evil, but trust me it is a movie worthy of a heck of a lot more thoughts. The gore, the setting, the other characters, the resolution, and so much more deserved to be delved into more than I have done in this review. On every front and in every way Tucker And Dale Vs Evil is the very representation of how great the horror genre can be. It’s a smart, funny, charming, gory, and horrific film that never pulls any punches and hits all of its marks. I knew I loved Tucker And Dale Vs Evil the first time I watched it. Now that I’ve returned to the film there’s no doubt in my mind that Tucker And Dale Vs Evil is the best horror film I’ve ever seen.