You'll probably know Tudyk from his roles in Firefly (and Serenity), Death at a Funeral, and Dodgeball (eff yeah, Steve the Pirate!), so we already know he has some serious comedic chops. Tyler Labine is less well known. I first noticed him in the short-lived (but quite good) TV show Reaper way back in 2007. Regardless, both Tudyk and Labine are perfectly cast in their roles; they so convincingly play the titular life-long best friends that one wonders if they haven’t been long-time off-screen friends as well. Though both play a vital role in the film, Labine’s character becomes the focus, and he steals the show as the sweet, sensitive lug who falls for the girl out of his league.
Tucker and Dale vs. Evil draws most of its comedy from its heightened reality with exaggerated characters and hilariously gory happenstances. The film builds its humor by having most of its characters make logical choices, even while these choices are informed and overridden by misunderstandings and entertaining twists of fate. Much like The Cabin in the Woods, which NUFEC screened last year for Halloween, Tucker and Dale vs. Evil knows the slasher genre intimately and is able to flip common tropes for its own comedic ends. While both films successfully satirize our favorite horror classics, Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is more concerned with eliciting as much laughter as it can in its 89-min run-time, while The Cabin in the Woods was more focused on the deconstruction of the horror genre, albeit with plenty of humorous elements.
I love that this film eschews the common stereotypes in horror movies to make the under-educated hillbilly the lovable hero, and the middle-class, apparently innocent college student the dark and twisted villain. But where Labine’s performance as Dale is spot-on, the character who becomes the villain (the “Evil” of the title) felt a little forced. How have his friends never realized how batshit insane he is? That sort of evil doesn’t come out of nowhere.
Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is a rollicking good time, a tale of two delightful best-friends and the ridiculously bloody (and hilarious) coincidences and misunderstandings with which they must contend on their long-anticipated vacation. Though it has a couple of flaws, horror fans and regular moviegoers alike will find something to love. Just make sure the remote is close at hand for those inevitable moments when you just have to stop and laugh.