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April 11, 2011 | by  | in Film |
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Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil

Hillbillies have had it pretty hard in film. Between The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Deliverance and The Hills Have Eyes there hasn’t been much room for progressive portrayals of rural, working class white people, especially in the horror genre. Eli Craig’s debut film, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, attempts to address this disparity by parodying the conventions of the aforementioned films – unfortunately, it barely succeeds.

Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine) are a pair of well meaning rednecks who visit their holiday home in the Appalachians while a group of nubile young college kids camp nearby. The cynical kids are distrustful of the hicks and, through a series of misunderstandings, end up accidentally killing themselves one-by-one. This naturally amplifies the suspicions of the surviving kids and leads to a confrontation between the oblivious blue collar heroes and preppy ringleader Chad, who seems to harbour an unnatural hatred of hillbillies.

This is very much a one-joke premise. The ten-little-Indians structure of horror movies is turned on its head so, while the kids are still punished for their stupidity and sins, the mighty cosmic justice comes from the kids’ own actions, rather than the mountain men. As far as one-joke premises are concerned, this isn’t an awful one and could have sustained a better film. Tucker & Dale had the potential to be the next Evil Dead 2, but it is neither funny enough nor creative enough to transcend its premise. There are moments of great physical comedy – in one scene, Tucker runs his chainsaw into a beehive and sprints frantically through the forest, saw in hand, inadvertently scaring a would-be victim to whom he looks more like Leatherface than someone who hates bees. However, the film lacks the manic energy that would eventuate if Craig let loose and, with some exceptions, the gore is nowhere near as gleefully executed as it could have been. By the final act, the film has run out of steam and the ending is a let-down.

Tucker & Dale
is a passable subversion of generic conventions but it is impossible to overlook the squandered potential.

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