I believe it was Chekhov who said that if you drive a wood chipper into the forest where dumb co-eds are partying in the vicinity of suspicious hillbillies, that chipper must be used on human flesh. And so it is, though the intentions are decidedly reversed in this bloody, funny comedy of mistaken first impressions. Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine) appear like filthy, frightening Deliverance-style rednecks to a carful of dim collegians, one of whom relates the tale of a past massacre that occurred in the very same woods where they're camped. Cue the skinny-dipping scene on a moonlit lake, where a blonde cutie (Katrina Bowden) is knocked unconscious and removed to the yokels' creepy shack! Where the wood chipper awaits! When sympathetic Allison awakes, however, the shy, bearded Dale is making her breakfast and apologizing about the mess. Turns out the big galoot is a softie with Martha Stewart dreams for their cabin. And more, Allison's hillbilly-phobic friends go on the warpath to "save" her from her astonished and increasingly terrified hosts. Written by Eli Craig and Morgan Jurgenson (the former directs), Tucker & Dale piquantly tweaks every '80s axe-murderer flick you've ever seen, though it provides the same satisfaction of watching bratty undergrads perish one by one. Admittedly, the spoof loses steam in its last reel (i.e., when it runs out of frat kids to kill), but the film strikes an enjoyable tone of congenial gore.
"Do we look like psycho killers to you?" Tudyk (left) and Labine.
Opens at Varsity, Fri., Sept. 30. Rated R. 88 minutes.