Stuart Barr’s review:
It starts unpromisingly, first there’s a pre-title sequence that suggests you are about to see yet another found footage horror film (you aren’t) then it cuts to a group of college kids (the usual collection of jocks and hot girlfriends) heading off for a weekend camping in remote woods. The average horror fan should feel their heart sinking into their stomach. Well fear not, because from about this point Tucker & Dale vs. Evil (let’s call it T&D from now on) starts to twist genre conventions until you find yourself in a bizarro version of a rural-shitkicker farm-implement massacre movie where every cliché has been turned through 180 degrees.
After discovering they have forgotten to pack beer the college kids stop at a roadside store straight out of Deliverance. They are observed by Tucker and Dale, two genial hillbillies who are travelling up to Tucker’s fixer-upper holiday home (or spooky-ass looking cabin in the woods to you and me) for a spot of fishing, a bit of DIY, and a whole mess of drinking (Pabst Blue Ribbon or nothing else). Tucker (Firefly’s Tudyk) the more worldly of the two, advises his shy friend Dale (Labine from TV’s Reaper) to talk to one of the girls who has caught his eye. It doesn’t go well, possibly not helped by the massive scythe Dale, tongue tied social awkwardness and hulking stature, the city kids see him as a scary inbred redneck and freak out, leaving the hillbilly’s in a cloud of dust.
Things get really messed up later that night. The really irritating Chad (Moss), a man who turns the collar up on his polo shirt, winds his friends up a campfire tale of how is parents were attacked by hillbillies. The group then decide to go skinny dipping. Unfortunately Tucker and Dale just happen to be fishing in the same creek. When Allison (30 Rock’s Bowden), the girl who earlier caught Dale’s eye, is startled by our heroes nearly drowns, Dale dives in to save her. Unfortunately this is interpreted by the rest of the group as a kidnapping.
From this point on the paths of the hillbillies and the college kids crisscross in an escalating series of mutual misunderstandings that turns increasingly bloody and violent.
This is a rare film that manages to pull of the trick of making smart look like dumb. The way that Tucker and Dale’s every action, no matter how innocent genuinely appears to the college kids to represent a threat, and equally the actions of the college kids appear to Tucker and Dale to be the actions of deranged lunatics is really quite brilliantly done. Neither group can see what is going on, but the audience can always see precisely where things are heading. This is a seriously funny film. The dialogue is as consistently inventive and sharp as a top quality US sitcom, the gory violence is orchestrated as brilliantly timed physical splatstick, and there are three really great comic performances from Tudyk (watch his eyes), Bowden (initially filling the role of the cute chick, but gradually developing into a very funny character) and especially Labine. Watch out for a line from Tudyk about sandwiches, which is one of the single funniest lines in any film released this year.
While T&D will be especially funny for horror fans who will delight in seeing tungsten coated genre conventions being fed into a wood chipper and thoroughly shredded. However behind the carnage and claret, is a film that is as disarmingly sweet as Labine’s lovable lunk.
This is the most satisfying horror comedy since Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead 2.