Eli Craig reinvents the horror comedy with his new film Tucker & Dale vs Evil, which premiered Friday night, January 22nd, at midnight in Park City. The film takes a fresh, new angle on the hillbilly horror genre typified by movies like Deliverance and Wrong Turn. The two main characters, rednecks Tucker and Dale battle stuck-up college kids after a case of misread intentions. The college kids presume that their friend was kidnapped by the rednecks when in fact she was actually saved from drowning. Genre stereotypes get the best of the young kids as they are killed off one by one, not by the rednecks but by their own stupidity as they try to fight the hillbillies and save their friend. While scenes including grisly violence do occur periodically, the film is mainly a comedy, even bordering on romantic comedy at times. Sweet one moment, frightening the next, and funny throughout, Tucker & Dale hits all the right notes and dazzled the midnight audience in Park City.
The movie is driven by the performances of the two leads, Tyler Labine (star of the new Fox series Sons of Tucson) and character actor Alan Tudyk of Firefly fame. They are consistently hilarious, but do not come off as parodies. Labine and Tudyk are absolutely convincing in their portrayals of two rednecks that are just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Supporting performances by the actors who play the dim-witted college kids are all spot-on and the villain’s performance is over-the-top funny, yet still menacing.
Featuring impressive camerawork by David Geddes who has an extensive background working in television, Tucker & Dale is a fun film to watch. The requisite chase sequences are all shot well and the kill scenes are perfectly executed. The pacing is also perfect for a film relying on genre conventions. Because the audience already knows what to expect, only five or ten minutes are used to establish the story. The director and editor were wise to get into the action so quickly because the film is jam-packed with comedic and horrific moments alike and still clocks in at a brisk 86 minutes.
Tucker & Dale has already garnered a lot of positive buzz online. The praising reviews and fan interest may even generate a limited theatrical, something uncommon for an independent horror movie. Whatever the release, this must-see horror film will definitely find a welcome home on DVD.