The well-worn slasher-film aesthetic gets ingeniously sent up in the smart and witty Tucker & Dale vs. Evil. Horror fiends will find much to like about the film, because, well, it's extremely likable -- it plays on many of the stereotypes inherent in the genre, and fans will immediately get the references. Much of the credit for its affability is due to bearish backwoods star Tyler Labine, whose deft comic timing and geniality help carry the film. If you've seen your share of teenagers getting sliced and diced out in the boondocks, chances are you'll be tickled pink by this tale of a couple of good-natured bumpkins who are mistaken for serial murderers.
The trouble begins when a group of college kids on their way out to the woods encounter the hick duo of Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Labine) at a gas station. The students assume the worst of the pair -- partly because of Dale's poor social skills around the very pretty Allison (Katrina Bowden) -- and the youngsters flee the scene as if their lives were in danger. Little do they realize that they're vacationing right next to the two bumpkins, who are fixing up a vacation cabin in the immediate vicinity. Drama ensues during a late-night fishing excursion, when Dale ends up rescuing Allison after she knocks her head during a swim away from her group. As Tucker and Dale bring her back to their shack to nurse her wounds, the kids plot to save Allison and kill the hillbillies, though as it turns out, they can't stop killing each other in the process -- much to the confusion of Tucker and Dale.
High-concept horror comedies that actually work are a rare breed, yet Tucker & Dale vs. Evil manages to continually make the comedy-of-errors shtick work. Props should go not only to Labine, but Tudyk as well, who bears the brunt of the comic violence heaped upon the clueless duo. Thankfully, the laughs are evened out with a heaping of gore that'll please the horror hounds in the crowd. Amazingly, even the unbelievable romance between Allison and Dale comes off as rather sweet. In its own pleasantly blood-soaked way, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil delivers a whole lot more than just a one-joke concept, making it a very worthy watch for genre devotees.