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Movie review: 'Tucker & Dale vs. Evil'

This witty twist on the horror-slasher genre has sweet, innocent mountain men at bloody odds with a group of carousing and then mistakenly vengeful college kids.

September 30, 2011|By Robert Abele, Special to the Los Angeles Times
  • Tyler Labine, left, and Alan Tudyk play peaceful hillbillies who are mistaken for "Deliverance"-type menaces by some college kids in "Tucker & Dale vs. Evil."
Tyler Labine, left, and Alan Tudyk play peaceful hillbillies who are mistaken… (Dan Power / Magnet Releasing )

Hell-raising, beautiful college kids heading for the Appalachians — what could go wrong? How about a couple of bearded woodsmen dragging one of those weekenders, a blond beauty, back to their dilapidated cabin?

"Tucker & Dale vs. Evil" is a farce of misunderstanding first, body-count nightmare second and at nearly all times a refreshingly upending horror-comedy bromance.

The titular hillbillies — shy, sweet Dale (Tyler Labine) and his best friend Tucker (Alan Tudyk) — are director/co-writer Eli Craig's genre-redemption project, peaceful rednecks hoping for some R&R who save a girl (Katrina Bowden) from drowning, only to have her jerky, classist friends assume a "Deliverance"-meets-"Texas Chainsaw Massacre" scenario and haplessly lay siege on the befuddled pair.

What results is a lively homemade brew of parodic humor, over-the-top gore, and in the winning turns from Labine and Tudyk, an endearing (but never self-conscious) wit.

Watching the pair try to make sense of what's going on is its own hilarious commentary on slasher-movie tropes — when one college kid has at Tucker, only to land in a wood chipper, the only conclusion a terrified Tucker can reach is: "This is a suicide pact!"

By underpinning the mayhem with its stars' sincere chemistry, "Tucker & Dale vs. Evil" manages to make a situation with no small amount of grisliness feel anything but mean-spirited.

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