Combustible Celluloid
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With: Tyler Labine, Alan Tudyk, Katrina Bowden, Jesse Moss, Philip Granger, Brandon Jay McLaren, Christie Laing, Chelan Simmons, Travis Nelson, Alexander Arsenault, Adam Beauchesne, Joseph Sutherland
Written by: Eli Craig, Morgan Jurgenson
Directed by: Eli Craig
MPAA Rating: R for bloody horror violence, language and brief nudity
Running Time: 89
Date: 01/22/2010

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (2011)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Hillbilly Club

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Director and co-writer Eli Craig makes his feature debut with this simple, ingenious idea: why are hillbillies always so nasty and evil in horror movies? What if they're really good folks, and the college students are the awful ones? The movie takes this idea and runs all the way with it, allowing audiences to catch on at their own pace.

Like many horror movies, this opens with a carload of college students looking for a good time in the woods; there's also the ominous foreshadowing with the creepy, local hillbillies. However, this time hillbillies Dale (Tyler Labine) and Tucker (Alan Tudyk) are good-hearted souls looking for nothing more than to spend some quality time in their new "vacation home" (i.e. a ramshackle cabin, formerly belonging to a serial killer). After an accident, pretty blond Allison (Katrina Bowden) winds up in Dale's care, but her shallow, short-sighted friends suspect foul play. Before long, grisly deaths begin to occur, one by one, but are they random accidents, or is there something more sinister going on?

Most of the movie's success comes from the lead performances of Tyler Labine and Alan Tudyk, conjuring up an appealing combination of smart, dumb, and sweet, as well as a strong chemistry of friendship. There's also a huge, visceral thrill in the outrageous and gory deaths, each so hilariously implausible that it's shocking. The characters' deadpan reactions to the situation elevate the humor all the more. The chase/fight showdown sequence at the climax is bit of a step down, but though the movie is not as endlessly inventive or engaging as something like Shaun of the Dead, it's still an all around winner.

Magnolia has released a collectible Blu-Ray with a commentary track by director Craig and the two stars. There's a short making-of featurette, and a re-edit of the film showing the college kids' point of view. Other extras include outtakes, storyboards, trailers, etc.

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