You know how sometimes you see a movie with a great concept so obvious that you can’t believe no one thought of it before (and feel like kicking yourself for not being the one that did)? Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil is that kind of movie.

Tucker & Dale is a horror comedy that takes its inspiration from films like Deliverance, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, I Spit on Your Grave and a number of other “psycho redneck” movies. Fair or not, people of the Southern persuasion have not always been painted in the most positive light, and anyone familiar with this stereotype certainly wouldn’t question the Spring Break-enjoying group of kids in this movie when they get a little nervous after an encounter with the titular characters while on a trip to a secluded camping spot. After all, Tucker & Dale certainly look like those creepy, rape-happy yokels that populate the horror genre.

The twist here is that Tucker & Dale are two of the nicest, most easy-going guys you could ever hope to meet – a little simple, maybe, but at heart just two genuinely decent fellows. Unfortunately, a series of mishaps and mis-communications leads the kids to believe the two have kidnapped one of their friends (when in reality they have merely rescued her from drowning and hope to reunite her with her friends), and so they proceed to enact a plan to get her back. These aren’t the brightest kids, though, and so their plans keep having disastrous, fatal repercussions…which of course always occur when the other kids aren’t around, allowing them to continue to believe they are being picked off one by one by these rednecks. Meanwhile, Tucker & Dale are equally flummoxed by the whole thing, wondering why a crazy group of kids have shown up on their property with the apparent desire to kill themselves.

This movie has been finished and sort of floating out there in the unreleased ether for quite some time now. During that time in limbo, it has built up one heck of a positive reputation from the lucky few who were able to see it. Now that it has finally been unleashed upon the world (in limited theatrical release and PPV, with a DVD release coming in November), I can happily report that it lives up to the hype. This is easily one of the best horror comedies of recent memory, deserving to be mentioned in the same breath as heavy hitters like Shaun of the Dead. Like all the best horror comedies, it’s actually funny even when it’s NOT just making fun of horror cliches – the characters and performances are strong enough that even the smaller dialog moments ring true and make you laugh. Heck, I had a big grin on my face pretty much the entire way through.

Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine are absolutely perfect as the titular duo, and I think it’s a safe bet that these characters are cult horror icons in the making, probably soon to be seen on t-shirts and other merchandise at horror conventions around the world. Labine, in particular, is asked to more-or-less carry the bulk of the movie, and he is hilarious. Plus, his tender moments with the injured girl (played by Katrina Bowden, best known as Suri on 30 Rock) are legitimately sweet and moving, and their chemistry makes you really root for his character.

Meanwhile. while not necessarily a gore-fest, the deaths don’t shy away from the red stuff, but are all played in a comical light. I think the hardcore horror fans will be pleased with what they get.

I don’t really have a lot to say about this one – I feel like the concept alone should be enough to convince most to see it. Even if you’re not into the horror genre, Tucker & Dale is a strong enough comedy to win just about anyone over, I think, and adds two great new characters to the cinema world. I, for one, would love to see more adventures with these two, though hopefully they would be smart enough to mix it up and put them into a different sort of stereotypical horror situation next time.



This review was originally posted at Trevor Likes Movies on October 3rd, 2011.