Tusk tells the story of a comedy podcaster who is held hostage by an old man in a wheelchair. Why does this man want to keep a successful internet personality locked inside his Canadian home?
Whatever you guessed, it’s wrong.
He wants to turn him into a walrus. Obviously.
Kevin Smith makes his first endeavor into the horror genre with the only movie to ever be based on a Gumtree (think British Craigslist) advert. This particular ad caught Smith’s attention and led to a 30 minute movie pitch/brainstorming session on his SModcast podcast with Scott Mosier. They asked their listeners to tweet “#WalrusYes” or “#WalrusNo” as to whether or not the movie should become a reality and now Tusk is playing in a theater near you.
I went to see the movie with my cousin, who is a big fan of horror. I had done a lot of research on Tusk (possibly too much), but I still wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. I haven’t seen very many scary movies, so I have to admit I was a little freaked out beforehand. We walked up to the ticket booth, showed the cashier our IDs and headed inside. We were greeted by another employee who would normally rip off our ticket stubs without hesitation and point us towards our theater, but instead, he also asked to see our IDs. I figured it’s because I look like a prepubescent boy, but he told us it was because the movie is “really graphic,” which definitely didn’t do anything to ease my nerves.
Well, I’m surprised to say that this movie is not scary. In fact, it’s downright hilarious in the best way possible. This might be bad news for anyone hoping for a Human Centipede-like gorefest, but it sure made for a great film. There’s still a fair share of creepy and suspenseful moments, but don’t go expecting any jump scares. Instead, be ready for some uneasy laughter because this script is filled with Kevin Smith’s brand of oddball humor. Even during some of the more intense scenes, I found myself grinning like an idiot and thinking “Holy shit, I love this movie.” Every line of dialogue is ridiculously witty and quotable, which is sure to catapult Tusk into “cult classic” status in no time.
Justin Long does a great job as Wallace Bryton, our unlucky protagonist who finds himself sewn inside the walrus costume. His character is meant to be a bit of an asshole, but Long finds the perfect balance between comedy and pure terror. As he desperately attempts to call his girlfriend from inside this madman’s house, we really do feel for him. Of course, some credit must be given to the madman himself. Michael Parks is both kooky and unsettling as Howard Howe. He could have easily been crazy for the sake of being crazy, but Smith actually gives him a legitimate motive for all of his actions and even makes us feel a bit sorry for Howe in the end.
***possible spoilers ahead***
This cameo won’t be a surprise for those of us who can’t stay off of IMDb, but there is another big movie star featured in Tusk. Almost completely unrecognizable as a French Canadian homicide detective is Johnny freaking Depp. I know what you’re thinking. How?! Apparently, he’s a friend of Kevin Smith’s and a big fan of Michael Parks. The two of them share a fairly long scene with one another that feels so out of place that it somehow works. It’s impossible not to laugh when Depp’s onscreen, whether he’s eating a slider or running through the woods with a shotgun. Luckily, this isn’t the last time we’ll be seeing him play Guy Lapointe.
***end of spoilers***
Haley Joel Osment and Genesis Rodriguez play Wallace’s best friend/podcast co-host and girlfriend, respectively. Some people might have a problem with their characters because they take us away from the walrus action, but they both play very important roles. Rodriguez delivers a pretty emotional monologue at one point and they both help keep the story grounded. As they desperately search for their friend, it all seems very real and neither of them ever wander into “corny” territory.
Tusk is also shot very well, especially the scenes that take place in Howe’s mansion. It’s even more impressive when you find out that the entire thing was shot in a mere fifteen days. My only complaint would be the choice of music during the “final battle” sequence. What should have been one of the most climatic moments of the movie is somewhat cheapened due to unfitting song placement, but that doesn’t seem so important when you consider how great everything else is. I just wish I hadn’t seen what the walrus looks like before seeing the movie. Do yourself a favor and don’t look it up ahead of time.
Bottom line: Tusk is one of the most ridiculous films I’ve ever seen and I loved every minute of it.