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.