Eli Craig's Tucker & Dale vs. Evil comfortably situates itself within the "evil hillbilly" subgenre of horror films. Except it's from the hillbillies perspective, and they're not so much inbred vicious murdering good ole' boys as holiday home owning chaps who enjoy a bit of country music and dungaree wearin'. Yep, Tucker & Dale is a bit of a piss-take.
Now, I'll fess up to not being any sort of expert on horror films in general, or evil hillbilly films in particular, but Tucker & Dale seem to hit more right notes than not. The film begins in standard enough fashion, with a group of douchey college kids off for a drunken weekend in the woods. They come across our boys Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine) pickin' up petrol & supplies and are monumentally freaked out by them. The poor boys are just confused (and maybe a little hurt) by the college kids' reactions as they continue on to Tucker's recently purchased holiday home: a broken down piece o' crap that just happens to have once been the site of a brutal backwoods massacre (20 years ago today!). Tucker and Dale rescue one of the kids from drowning (the pretty, blonde one that Dale has a crush on), though the kids think she's been kidnapped. Hilarity and deliciously bloody (but accidental!) kills ensue.
I'm a big Alan Tudyk fan but, boy howdy, Tyler Labine steals the film as it's big, dumb and hairy heart Dale. He's always so earnest and confused, but never over-selling it. Neither or these guys go for the "comedy hillbilly" and this is to the film's benefit. If these guys took it too far into comedy stereotype, they would have risked distancing the audience. And the chuckles wouldn't have worked half as well if we didn't care about the fates of Tucker & Dale. Katrina Bowden as Allison, the rescued/kidnapped young blonde girl does much with a fairly thankless role: she's essentially the straight man to all the crazy going on around her. But she's smart, pretty, funny and once she begins to see the real Dale you really hope she makes it through ok. The leader of the college kids is Chad: asthmatic, vengeful and a couple o' spoons short of a full jug band. Jesse Moss, as Chad, lays it on thick and nearly ends up chewing the scenery but for him, it works: he's the leery, sneery bad guy! And boy, is a he a prick.
There are a couple of minor hiccups and perhaps Craig didn't milk the concept for all it was worth; there may have been opportunity for him to make more reference to actual "evil hillbilly" horror films in more specificity. But like I said, I'm no horror aficionado and I had hoot of a time: Craig keeps the laughs and kills coming, with a lot of both being just pure dumb bad luck for our hillbilly heroes. Tucker & Dale vs. Evil is a damned fine addition to the horror-comedy genre with two lovable lead characters you can't help but root for. And I'll say this as well: thank the dark gods it's not another bloody zombie movie.