Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil Eli Craig

Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil Eli Craig
Following in the satirical footsteps of winking horror comedies like Severance, The Cottage and, to a lesser degree, Shaun of the Dead, director Eli Craig takes on psycho hillbillies, with inconsistent results. For the first half, the premise works quite well: a bunch of ignorant college kids rashly mistake two vacationing country bumpkins for killer rednecks. Gory, misconception-based hilarity ensues, until the gags run out of gas and the blatant subtext devolves into preachy, blog-style rants about acceptance, enforced by an unlikely romance. Initially shot from the perspective of the college kids, Craig does a good job of using the cinematic language of horror films to poke fun at the ease with which perceptions can be manipulated. Tucker (Tyler Labine) and Dale (Alan Tudyk, Firefly) look plenty menacing based on their appearance and awkward demeanour, so it's understandable that after their first uncomfortable exchange with the kids at a gas station, their later rescue of Allison (Katrina Bowden, 30 Rock), after she falls off a rock into the lake, is misconstrued as a kidnapping by the rest of the group. By this point, we've spent alone time with the two harmless rednecks and understand that Tucker's creepiness is simple nerves over talking to a pretty girl and the two buddies are just trying to fix up an old cabin as a vacation home. The clashing confusion between the college kids trying to rescue their friend and Tucker and Dale trying to figure out why these kids are suddenly running around their property brandishing weapons is what works best about the movie. The first accidental death is shocking and excellently engineered – those that follow are hit and miss, growing swiftly predictable and repetitive, though most of the deaths are still paced well enough to maintain the maniacal humour, until a table turning plot device leads to a typical teen-horror film climax and resolution. Tudyk and Labine are capable vessels of comedy in these roles and their natural knack for improvisation comes through in the outtakes found in the special features. It would have been nice to see more behind-the-scenes riffing in the "Making Of," which lazily relies on talking head interviews recapping the plot, with the exact scenes being described interspersed. More informative and funny is a feature commentary with Eli Craig, Labine and Tudyk, in which they point out mistakes, share production stories and compare the evolution of ideas from script to screen. Also included: a sampling of storyboard pages with concise script notes and a mini-cut of the movie told entirely from the college kids' point of view. (Alliance)