This low-budgeted foray from an unknown director might seem a little telegraphed and one-note, but it consistently bucks the trend of a genre most identified with adolescent males and filmmakers like Eli Roth.
The horror/comedy Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil gets the most out of a spry cast led by Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine, in the eponymous roles, respectively. This British import is probably at least as pitch-perfect in its assessing of narrative and characters as Greg Mottola did earlier this year with the sci-fi road picture Paul which starred Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.
The good-natured rednecks are in the woods trying to repair a dilapidated cabin retreat unbeknownst to nearby camping collegiates who are into intense ghost tales. One of them, Allison (Katrina Bowden) has a bad aquatic spill and the hillbilly samaritans get her to their place of restoration.
Helmer Eli Craig (who may very well get more producers on his side for his next work if this is any indication) manages to finely modulate the proceedings from the lurid to well-timed wryness as Alison's amped-up friends get a darkly dire impression of Tucker and Dale.
With many amusing line readings and creatively staged gags and set pieces, a misunderstanding is milked rather cleverly with a rescue attempt having results that definitely would appease viewers of Final Destination 5 or even Roth's gratuitous, uneven contagious disease in the woods splatter, Cabin Fever.
The cheeky, satirical way with the premise is almost good enough to have the Midnight Madness crowd search through their old horror hits to see how the filmmakers get a buzz out of it. Tudyk (who delivered on a showy part in the British original of Death at a Funeral) and Labine (who works off the character's social limitations) provide much humor through their friendship and escalating misfortune.
Bowden is an engaging damsel who has some on-screen sparkle with Labine, and Jesse Moss displays some psychotic qualities as a troublemaking head honcho of the disputatious folks fired-up about Allison.
While this entry probably won't do much outside of a specialty circuit, word-of-mouth and cult potential is clearly viable as a fairly well-paced Tucker and Dale uses the evils of the slasher, serial-killer, and zombie film to much humorous effect.
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