Tucker & Dale Vs Evil sounds like a Mario Brothers style arcade game that has no business being a film. But overcoming this self-infliction the film efficiently hints of its entertainment potential and boy am I glad that I stayed the course.
Wasting no time, the film sets up its one line premise of turning the tables on the road trip gone wrong thriller genre. Our protagonists & titular characters, Tucker (Alan Tudyk) & Dale (Tyler Labine) are BFFs from the countryside travelling to Tucker’s newly purchased vacation home in the woods. A group of teenagers (group of teenagers is such a clichéd term; in film’s spirit of subverting clichés, I’ll call them a pack of teenagers) are camping at an adjoining location. But little do they know that there is a wolf among this pack of annoying sheep, Chad (Jesse Moss) who narrates a hillbilly horror story, Memorial Day Massacre.
The pack, freaked by the story, clings to an invitation to go skinny dipping in a nearby lake. Allison (Katrina Bowden) one of the more open minded member of the pack tries going into the lake from a secluded location but slips & bangs her head (a running gag). The titular duo are nearby drinking & fishing in there canoe and lover boy Dale pulls her out and saves her. But the pack assume that the hillbillies are kidnapping or killing her. The story then unfolds on basis of series of misunderstanding and finally with the wolf outing himself.
Classic slasher flicks with similar teenagers / family bumping plotlines like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, The Hills Have Eyes, Friday The 13th and the newer crop consisting of Final Destination, Wrong Turn and all of the sequels, prequels, reboots, inspirations that these films spawned and their aunts are referenced without becoming annoying. What does become annoying are the disturbing moments of sudden violence & gore. Now excessive gore is an integral part of the genre being spoofed. Thus, the creators decided to incorporate it into the script but without making any fun or commentary on it, which considering the overall tone of the film, makes it a bit jarring.
Tucker & Dale Vs Evil owes its roots to the patron saints of genre spoofing comedies, Edgar Wright (The Cornetto Trilogy) and Mel Brooks (The name’s enough [That’s not a movie]) though it’s not as good as them. The diarrhoea of bad spoofs like The Scary Movie series, Disaster Movie, Meet the Spartans gives one an idea how easy they are to make & extremely hard to be made into something good. That’s mainly because they are mutated into a game of spot the reference rather than understanding the root cause of clichés in the chosen genre.
‘Tucker’ understands (though fails in completely exploiting) the root cause of all the blood & gore in the road trip thrillers, prejudice & fear. For most of the pack it’s naturally imbibed through watching too much slasher movies. For our hillbilly Dale the film has nicely forged an inferiority complex and while the violent counterparts in the road trip thrillers films too suffer from inferiority complex they clearly have a tendency to pick up the hatchet than bury it.
The film seldom if ever gives anything above caricatures but they are made interesting by their reversed nature. This is highlighted in one of the supremely hilarious scene where Allison tries to conduct a civilised conference between the sweet & shy Dale and the psychopathic Chad which ultimately adds fuel to fire. The film also recognizes the importance of ‘The Straight Guy’ in a comedy, which is why we have Tucker who mostly responds to absurdity than being its creator.
The film’s strongest asset is the chemistry between Alan Tudyk & Tyler Labine. There is scene in between where the sheriff walks in on the duo as they are covered in blood & dragging shredded lower half of the body of one of teenager; with that description one might expect it to devolve into a gun fight or chase or some other thrilling set piece but the writing (although it seems improvised, in a good way) & most importantly the chemistry between the leads made it into the funniest scene of the film.
Is the plot preposterous? Ofcourse. Are there many times where (forget realism) stuff just refuses to make any sense, if you think about it for more than ten seconds? Yeah dude your hitting it right on the mark again. But it works because the movie recognizes what it is and tries to go to town with it. And in its own way the movie asks us to recognize people for who they are and sometimes it turns out a hillbilly is a super-intelligent sensitive guy.
To conclude, apna Anil’s Reliance is one of the producers of the film, maybe its just to add authenticity to the ‘Evil’ in the title. Yeah Reliance is probably going to ki
– Tejas Chitre