Kevin Smith’s newest horror comedy Tusk opens today! Luckily, we were able to attend an advance screening and have a review of the start of Smith’s Canadian horror trilogy.
Kevin Smith is a writer and director who is almost bigger than the films that he makes. Catapulted into the film industry by his film Clerks, Smith has created a dedicated fan base that will follow him everywhere, myself included in that group. He has created this online persona that makes fans feel like we know that man personally. Through his many podcasts, tweets, and being thrown off planes, Kevin Smith is the ultimate geek that has made it big.
With all this clout, Smith has released Tusk. A movie adaptation of episode 259 of his Smodcast podcast. In the episode, the hosts hammered out the details of a horror story where a man would turn an unsuspecting victim into a real life walrus. Smith then asked Twitter to vote on whether he should make this into a movie, and the internet demanded that he should. And thus Tusk was born.
Tusk stars two offensive podcasters played by Justin Long and Haley Joel Osmet. Long travels north to Winnipeg to interview and make fun of a Youtube viral video star. Along his journey he reads an ad that offers stories and adventures of a lifetime. This leads him to Howard Howe who is played by Michael Parks. Howe quickly drugs the podcaster and then begins the disturbing act of turning him into a human walrus.
This movie has an ever changing tone. The first act is comprised of several scenes of pure dialogue, one of Kevin Smith’s strengths. But when you analyse them to the overall plot, they do little to move the story along. There are scenes in this movie that are just as disturbing as something you would see in The Human Centipede. Thankfully, Smith leans towards creating a more psychological horror than physically showing you the gore. Although, the reveal of the full walrus suit is a reveal full of disgust and laughs. And that’s the problem.
Over and over again, Tusk will try to scare us. Which it succeeds at when the viewer puts themselves into that situation. Yes, it would be absolutely horrifying to be sewn into a suit of human skin. But when you see said suit on screen, it’s tough to hold the laughs back for how ridiculously stupid all of it is. There were several scenes in this film that remind me of Sharknado and other Asylum Pictures films. Just for the sheer ridiculous of the situations and acting that was presented.
Another slight problem of the film is that if you have heard the entire podcast episode that birthed this movie, you have essentially seen this film. Tusk does little to vary from the source. A fact that is confirmed when during the end credits Smith plays a clip that reveals them writing the climax on the air.
In a slight spoiler, the real strength of this film is the small appearance by Johnny Depp. Depp plays French-Canadian detective Guy Lapointe. With a large fake nose and moustache, Depp is almost unrecognizable. But he brings a real power to Smith’s words where lesser actor’s would have faltered. Depp is so fun as the character that I would love to see a Guy Lapointe spinoff where he hunts the criminals of the north.
I applaud the effort of this movie, and admire that this entire venture was birthed on a podcast. I’m astounded that Tusk was actually made. It’s a strange mix of horror and comedy. One where you will never be sure what your reaction should be. Smith batted way outside his wheelhouse for this one. If you are a strong horror fan, then I would say that you will love every minute of this film. As a Kevin Smith fan, I don’t know that I ever need to see it again. This walrus has knocked me into the sea.