Tucker and Dale vs Evil is built on a simple germ of an idea – what happens if you use the hillbilly-slasher framework, but portrayed from the hillbillies’ perspective? And what if said rednecks are actually innocent sweethearts, the “murders” caused by freak accidents (that are hard to describe without mentioning Rube Goldberg)?
It’s a good idea, with well-cast actors to portray the hillbillies (Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine), and the aforementioned “kills” are consistently clever and funny. So, why didn’t I get much out of it other than some halfhearted chuckles?
There are a couple reasons. Firstly, the Tucker and Dale part of the title might be well-acted, but the awkward shoe-horning in of Evil doesn’t work at all; the narrative doesn’t need or want a villian, or an awkward backstory to boot. More importantly, the film is set up like a classic farce. Wacky misunderstandings and whatnot. It doesn’t seem to realise, though, that a farce requires escalation – these misunderstandings and gaps in communication snowball into a (hopefully) hilariously madcap conclusion (see Death at a Funeral, also featuring Tudyk, for a good example of the form). Here we’re stuck in first gear the whole time, to the film’s detriment.