Tag: Eli Craig

Hidden Netflix Gems – Tucker and Dale vs Evil

Hidden Netflix Gems is a new feature designed to help readers answer that burning question, “What should I watch tonight?” It will be updated every Saturday before the sun goes down.

I am notorious for my willingness to watch pretty much any movie, so it is always a joy to find one that wildly exceeds my expectations. This is often not a great movie, by any means, but one that flew under the critical radar for the most part, and provided some unexpected pleasure, a film that I can enjoy recommending to friends in the knowledge that they have probably not encountered it. Eli Craig’s debut feature Tucker and Dale vs Evil is one of those films, especially for horror fans. Though it is relatively slight and far from perfect, this is an enormously fun and clever riff on the slasher genre, a film that will undoubtedly be especially enjoyed by fans of the recent horror deconstruction masterpiece The Cabin in the Woods, or the mostly overlooked 2006 mockumentary, Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (also available on Netflix).

Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine) are two well-meaning but poorly educated good ol’ boys who have recently purchased a rundown cabin in the woods as a vacation home. En route to their paradise of relaxation and fishing, they encounter a group of mostly obnoxious college kids who are creeped out by them based on Dale’s innocent but ungainly attempt to talk to the prettiest girl among them, Allison (Katrina Bowden). Chad (Jesse Moss) in particular shows extraordinary prejudice against the two well-meaning bumpkins, and it becomes clear that he is the character who would be the hero in a more conventional horror film. Instead, he is presented as a vicious, bloodthirsty maniac – the very type of person he believes Tucker and Dale to be.

After Chad attempts to put the moves on Allison at his family’s cabin, adjacent to Tucker and Dale’s, she leaves to take a walk by herself down by the lake, only to slip and fall in, hitting her head. Tucker and Dale, of course, save her from drowning, but are perceived by the other college students to be kidnapping her. This is just the beginning of a series of unfortunate accidents and misunderstandings that leads Chad and the others to think the two good-natured hillbillies are psycho killers. Though it ultimately takes a less interesting route (and I may be giving this bloody but relatively light comedy too much credit), at a certain point the film seems to be making the surprisingly intelligent case that, often, those obsessed with finding and destroying evil are, in fact, the truly evil ones. It undercuts this philosophical thesis with a lot of silliness and a somewhat problematic ending, but this movie is nonetheless a lot of fun, and a far better film than the title led me to believe.

SXSW 2010: Tucker and Dale vs. Evil

Every so often, a movie comes along that sounds too good to be true. Whether it’s the talent involved, an interesting concept, or a particularly well-cut trailer, it’s easy to be duped into thinking a movie will be better than it really is. Thankfully, “Tucker and Dale vs. Evil” is not that film. A horror comedy in the spirit of “Shaun of the Dead,” “Tucker and Dale” isn’t a spoof of the genre it’s parodying (in this case, hillbilly slasher movies like “Wrong Turn”), but rather a razor-sharp homage fueled by a clever script and hilarious performances from its stars.

Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine star as Tucker and Dale, two good ‘ol boys on their way to fix up their newly purchased vacation home in the woods when they cross paths with a group of college students who think they’re serial killers. So when the duo saves one of the students (Katrina Bowden) after she falls into the lake and hits her head on a rock, her friends think that she’s been abducted and being held captive in their cabin. Determined to fight back, the students take turns going after the supposed hunters, but every time they do, they only end up killing themselves instead. From their point of view, it certainly looks like Tucker and Dale are responsible for the bloody mayhem, but the two friends are nothing but unlucky – a fact that only becomes clearer when the group’s bloodthirsty leader (Jesse Moss) takes matters into his own hands

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“Tucker and Dale vs. Evil” is a movie built around a series of ridiculous coincidences (just like the films it playfully pokes fun at), and while it may seem a bit far-fetched at times, it’s all part of the experience. Writer/director Eli Craig is obviously a big fan of the genre, because he knows which strings to pull and how to pull them. He’s crafted some pretty memorable death scenes that, despite causing fits of laughter, don’t skimp on the bloody details either. There’s plenty of gooey viscera splattered throughout the film, but its strengths lie in Craig’s script – particularly the exchanges between its title characters as they ponder the reason why these students would be killing themselves.

For as funny as the script may be, however, there would be no “Tucker and Dale” without Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine, who have such great onscreen chemistry that you wouldn’t mind them starring in every movie together. Labine ends up playing a much larger role than his co-star due to a romantic subplot between him and Katrina Bowden, but Tudyk arguably gets the better material, including one scene no doubt inspired by “Fargo.” If only the actors playing the college students were even remotely as good. Granted, most of them are nothing more than stupid bait, but Jesse Moss plays such a pivotal role that his over-the-top performance is distracting. It’s the only element that doesn’t work as well as the others, but even though “Tucker and Dale vs. Evil” is a mostly one-joke affair, it finds ways to keep you laughing even when it’s not at its best.

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