Though the bloodily cartoonish Tucker and Dale vs. Evil definitely has its moments—and nobody can deny the tender heart beating under its campy, gory exterior—I can’t help but feel this was a missed opportunity: a cult classic was totally possible here. Judging by the buzz, it’s possible that it might still reach that apex…but I’d be surprised, because this goofy, over-the-top tale of college students on a camping trip warring with two local West Virginia hillbillies (Tucker, Dale) lacks a core identity. It’s not laughably, brilliantly bad like, say, The Room or Samurai Cop—in fact, Tucker and Dale vs. Evil offers a sympathetic look at the brutal stereotypes that plague rural folk from Middle America. It’s not pure, guns-blazing mindless fun like Peter Jackson’s early work. It’s not even Bubba Ho-Tep. Instead, we’re treated to a little of all these things, but the portion sizes are too small to generate any consistency. The acting isn’t giddily fun (Tommy Wiseau, anybody?), nor it it outright atrocious, but it is pretty clunky…though to its credit, it improves as it goes along across the board. The kills have some clever homages, particularly one to a famous Coen Brothers sequence, but lack imagination otherwise. The finale is hokey central. And yet…despite its numerous shortcomings, Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is so damn endearing anyway. Or at least it winds up that way once the woodsy dust has settled and you ruminate on the entire affair. So, while I can’t fully endorse it, even within the boundaries of what it’s supposed to be,  I can say you could do far worse for some mindless fun, and who knows—your mileage may wildly vary. For me, though, this picture defines a mixed bag.

49/100