It’s a horror movie. It’s a comedy. It has plenty of gore. And slapstick. No doubt, the folks who put this mash-up together have seen Evil Dead 2 and Shaun of the Dead and any number of those grisly, backwoods, kill-off-the-young-actors movies. But the writing team of Morgan Jurgenson and Eli Craig (who also directed) have plopped on enough new, imaginative twists — some of them pretty twisted — to make Tucker and Dale vs. Evil refreshingly fun.
It’s introduced as a story of college kids on a road trip, heading for a remote West Virginia lake, but first stopping for some beers and being leered at by a couple of local hillbillies. Those would be the two fellows of the title — nice guys (if a bit socially inept) for whom the idyllic existence is fishing and sipping Pabst Blue Ribbon.
In fact, they’re off to do some of that — coincidentally, at the same lake where the kids are to skinny-dip.
More coincidence: Tucker and Dale are fishing and drinking right where the kids are skinny-dipping. Coincidence leads to accidents: Beautiful psychology student Allison (Katrina Bowden, from 30 Rock) is knocked out cold, then rescued and taken to safety by Tucker and Dale. Coincidences and accidents lead to misunderstandings: Her friends are convinced that Tucker and Dale are psycho killers and have “gone after” Allison with plans to do who-knows-what with her.
What ensues is a kind of Bizarro World story of survival. Sweet and innocent and somewhat well-read Tucker (Alan Tudyk, from Firefly) and Dale (Tyler Labine, from Rise of the Planet of the Apes) must defend themselves from the practically frothing-at-the-mouth kids.
So we get craftily placed, very funny horror movie clichés that are taken to absurd levels, one of them involving a chainsaw and a bee’s nest. And there’s lots of room for bloody stuff with extremely pointed tree branches, badly situated wood chippers, and people who don’t know how to use guns.
Here’s some dialogue:
Aghast Tucker, pointing to Dale’s blood-spattered shirt: “Is that your blood?”
Panicky Dale to Tucker: “No, it’s college-kid blood!”
This is a real something-for-everyone movie. We get a serious discussion of Stockholm Syndrome, constant reminders that Tucker and Dale are longtime pals who are always ready to help each other, and, most important, advice that Pabst Blue Ribbon instantly relieves the pain when poured directly on bee stings.