Zombos Says: Very Good
You know the saying, dying's easy, comedy is hard? Try doing horror-comedy, now that's hard. Eli Craig and the rest of the cast and crew of Tucker and Dale vs. Evil do a stellar job playing off usually more serious slasher grint and gore to show the funny bone in awkward body impalements, whizzing buzzsaw head-slicing, woodchippered ground round torsos, and assorted lacerations as hillbillies Tucker and Dale's vacation keeps getting interrupted by a group of city-bred college youngin's who've seen too many horror movies. You'll laugh, you'll cry (from laughing), you'll wonder how grisly death can be so funny. We needed these guys around when Freddy took on Jason.
The way out-of-the-way gas station Allison (Katrina Bowden), Chad (Jesse Moss), Chloe (Chelan Simmons), Chuck (Travis Nelson), Jason (Brandon Jay McLaren), Naomi (Christie Laing), Todd (Alex Arsenault), Mitch (Adam Beauchesne), and Mike (Joseph Sutherland) stop at is typical for The Hills Have Eyes and Wrong Turn kinds of gas stations: shabby, grimy, and frequented by droopy eyed, scruffy types wearing dirty clothes, construction boots, and sour looks. Tucker prods the shy Dale into meeting Allison. Already spooked by the milieu, Dale's greeting, made with a bad stammer and while holding a scythe, scares off Allison and her friends. Tucker continues to lecture Dale on being more assertive as they drive to Tucker's recently purchased dream cabin in the woods, which is also rundown, filled with cobwebs, dirt and dust, and a dangerously loose, nail-studded beam poised to do some serious head-whacking.
This comedy of errors begins its blood-letting when the frat kids, camping nearby, listen intently to Chad's Memorial Day Massacre campfire story about a hillbilly rampage that happened twenty years ago, leaving only one survivor. They laugh it off and go skinny dipping. Allison is startled by Tucker and Dale, who are on the lake fishing. She falls, knocking herself unconscious. Tucker and Dale rescue her and take her to the cabin. Her friends, thinking she's been kidnapped, plan her rescue. Much accidental carnage ensues when hillbilly massacre-primed college students stumble, run, and turn abruptly into sharp objects each time they confront Tucker, who's not very good with power tools to begin with. Inside the cabin Allison wakes up, and after her initial fright learns that Dale is actually a nice guy, and very smart, when he pulls out the board games. We also learn Allison is a nice girl and also smart.
Meanwhile, her friends are dropping faster than whack-a-mole. Mike's full-body slam dunk into the woodchipper leaves Tucker and Dale holding incriminating evidence when the sheriff (Philip Granger) pulls up. The sheriff steps into close proximity of the nail-studded beam, which results in more screaming and panic from Allison's friends. She tries to explain how they've got it all wrong, but now they think she's suffering from the Stockholm Syndrome.
Somewhat like the comedy duo of Abbott and Costello, Tucker plays straight man to Dale's fall guy, but it's Dale who must save Allison from the psycho-killer suddenly popping up. Backwoods horror characters and situations are refreshingly skewed: the beautiful blond is approachable and wants to be a psychologist; the unsophisticated hillbillies are kind-hearted, average guys--on vacation; the sophisticated college kids expertly self-destruct; and the sheriff is ineffective (oh wait, that's to type, actually).
Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is one of those rare events: a festival-shown horror movie that's actually intelligently produced, well acted, witty, gory, and surprising in that it didn't get a wider theatrical release in the U.S. I hope Tucker and Dale go on another vacation real soon.