Tusk

tusk-movie-posterAfter watching Yoga Hosers and realizing that Tusk was the only Kevin Smith film that I haven’t seen, I felt that I should take measures to remedy that. Tusk is much more a horror film than Yogo Hosers, but still has Smith’s trademark brand of humor. I had heard mixed reviews on Tusk, and I can kind of see where their complaints lay. But, This is a Kevin Smith film. So you have to expect that even though it’s a horror film, that it’s also going to have more than a couple of comedic elements.

Tusk starts with us learning all about our protagonist Wallace Bryton (Justin Long), who is one half of comedy duo on a popular podcast with Teddy Craft (Haley Joel Osment). Wallace leaves LA for the great north of Canada to record an interview with an internet sensation who got famous due to embarrassment. When he leaves, he leaves behind Teddy, who fears flying, and his girlfriend Ally Leon (Genesis Rodriguez). On whom he plans to cheat. When he gets to Canada he learns that the man he planned to interview has committed suicide, leaving him without a story. Though he stumbles upon one in the bathroom of a local bar, when he finds the handbill of Howard Howe (Michael Parks), a wheelchair bound aged adventure with many tales of the sea. Intrigued Wallace goes to interview him for his podcast and is almost instantly enamored by Howard’s tales. Until he passes out from the drugs in his tea. He wakes up groggy from the drugs and minus one leg, that Howard claims was amputated from a brown recluse bite and that all the phones are gone from the house at doctors orders. A lie which is discovered at dinner when Howard reveals that he can walk, when he gets up and slaps Wallace for crying. Howard subjects to Wallace to mental degradation and physical mutilation, during which Wallace is able to recover his phone briefly to call Ally and Teddy for help. Calls that go unanswered due to the two of them being involved in an affair. Wallace is slowly surgically turned into a walrus so that Howard can relive his happy days with a walrus that saved his life years ago. Before he killed it to eat, hours before he was saved. An event that he marks each anniversary by recreating the walrus from a human and giving a chance to survive the battle it lost so long ago…

The story is a bit ludicrous, which isn’t surprising given this is a Kevin Smith film. But the acting is amazing, I love everything I’ve seen with Justin Long, and  Micheal Parks always sticks out prominently in my mind from his performance in Red State. Here the two play off one another wonderfully, to the point that I don’t think I would have liked this film the same if had been any two other actors in the roles.

People told me this film was gruesome, something that I don’t agree with. Sure it gets weird when Wallace’s changed into a walrus, but I wouldn’t call it gruesome. But on the other hand, I watch a lot of horror films and I have reached a point that calling something gruesome would be a high praise. I do love the detail put into the walrus though, particularly the faces, ears and other details of the flesh stitched into the walrus to give him his mass.

I love the dark comedy elements, on which this film thrives. Guy Lapointe (Johnny Depp) is a character that I feel plays heavily into this. As all of his scenes that while serious, are side-splitting.

Final thoughts, I really like this film as unlike Yoga Hosers is a horror film. While it has its funny moments it’s never so funny that inherent danger and dread that Wallace is in becomes lost or forgotten. If anything the humor plays on that horror, creating a memorable film. I can say that after watching Tusk I’m very excited to see what Kevin Smith does with the third installment of The True North Trilogy. 8/10

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