(The following review was contributed by R.T Ewell. R.T is a writer, his work can be found here)
Tusk is the first movie, to my knowledge, that was created on a podcast. On episode #259 of Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier’s Smodcast Podcast they read an article that would be the basis for this movie. Now, I will be the first to admit I am not the biggest fan of Kevin Smith’s podcasts. I love his movies but I find his podcasts to be annoying. I started listening to this particular episode after I watched the film. I wanted to be well researched for this article to see how this very odd movie by director Kevin Smith came about. If you have heard the episode, it’s very close to how the film ended up.
This is not Smith’s first venture into horror. Back in 2011, Red State would have that honor. Red State was well received by Smith’s fans, mostly, due to Michael Parks. His portrayal of Abin Cooper was chilling and is the highlight of the movie. Kevin Smith must have loved Michael Parks as much as the rest of us because he was cast once again in Tusk. Justin Long, Haley Joel Osment, and Genesis Rodriguez rounds out the cast of this bizarre film.
I’m just going to get the premise out of the way. Be prepared for its ridiculousness. Justin Long and Haley Joel Osment play two podcasters who seek to interview unique people. While in Canada, Wallace (Long) misses the opportunity to interview his original guest. He just so happens to find an advert where a man is offering lodging in exchange for his life stories. The man does indeed tell stories but secretly his agenda is to turn Long’s character Wallace into an animal. As you could probably guess by the title, that animal would be a walrus.
I told you. If the movie sounds ridiculous, well it is. Just by the subject matter it will probably be compared to The Human Centipede. What that movie did right, however, was to take a ridiculous concept and make it as serious as possible. Tusk does that for half the movie and then derails into mostly a comedy. Horror-comedy is extremely hard to pull off. Tusk proves how hard it is because in a lot of ways it fails because it’s almost two different movies. The first half is serious while the second half takes it in the opposite direction.
Now, this doesn’t mean I didn’t like the movie, it just means I wish it would have picked a path and stayed with it. There are a lot of things this movie does right. Kevin Smith’s dialogue is the best it’s ever been, taking notes from Quentin Tarantino. The interaction between Wallace (Long) and Howard Howe (Parks) is superb and at times terrifying. The house that provided the main setting was gorgeous with Smith using some great shots of it. There is a certain huge star that plays a pretty major character towards the end which will excite people.
Parks is the star of the movie for me. He does an incredible job making us believe this absurd premise. Even towards the end when it gets goofy, he is still giving us one hundred percent. Just like Red State he gives the most memorable performance of the movie.
The actor that I will not mention who plays Guy Lapointe is probably the most likable by default. The character is quirky while being someone we can kind of want to see emerge victorious. The performance is so good, to be honest, I don’t think I would have known who it was except I saw it on IMDB before going to the theater. If you don’t look at IMDB first, you may not know who this person is even when he is on screen. I’ll keep that as a surprise.
Tusk also does things wrong as well. It has sort of an identity crisis not knowing what it is. When it’s a horror move its great, when it’s a comedy it’s great, but mixing the two together had a weird effect on me. Most of the characters are not very likable. The acting is good but it’s hard to cheer for any of the characters. Long’s character is a bit of a jerk and we find out as the movie goes on that he’s just not that good of a guy. It’s a shame though because aside from certain characteristics they all seem like people that we could support, but that was not the case.
I am glad Tusk exists. I am glad to know that people are still willing to make horror movies that dare to shock audiences. Although I don’t consider Tusk a true horror movie in the sense of the terror it brings on screen, its horrifying concept challenges that. If the description of this movie has peaked your interest than I urge you to see it. You might think it’s ridiculous. You might think it’s stupid. But at least you can say it’s a well-made movie with one of the most bizarre concepts you’ve ever heard of.