Tusk (2014)

Weird has been an interest of mine for a long time, and Tusk is a weird film that has been on my watch list for a while. I’d seen the stills, the clips and knew of the general vibe that the film had but never sat and graced myself with what Kevin Smith had to offer.

Directed by Kevin Smith.

Starring Michael Parks, Justin Long, Genesis Rodriguez, Haley Joel Osment and Johnny Depp.

“When podcaster Wallace Bryton goes missing in the backwoods of Manitoba while interviewing a mysterious seafarer named Howard Howe, his best friend Teddy and girlfriend Allison team with an ex-cop to look for him.”

At its core, Tusk is a dark comedy horror. And when the synopsis is taken into consideration, it sure does have some Human Centipede vibes to it. Although the two films certainly differ wildly. Despite this, the film sticks with the familiar comedic style that we see often in Smith’s work. That comedy gets taken to gruesome extremes when Bryton (Justin Long) comes into contact with the mysterious Howard Howe (Michael Parks). There’s a level of discomfort in the scenes that follow, hearing Howe’s stories that tell of his epic adventures just seem to have an uncertainty to them. The first half of the movie successfully unravels a story that piqued an interest. The cinematography on Howe’s estate give a cold, Gothic aesthetic and add an isolated notion to the character’s quirky and awkward ways.

Some really gross practical effects were used throughout, and they really worked well fitting in with the film. I was pleasantly surprised by that.

We reach the second half of the film and the scenes between Bryton and Howe begin to peak. We’re revealed another story from Howe’s past that place him in a more than troubled state of mind, and it’s almost that I understood his fascination with the walrus. There were ‘training’ sequences as Bryton is placed in the walrus costume that had me endlessly cringing, considering how disgusting the costume itself looked and how unfortunate his character was. Yet I also found myself laughing at the way the scenes would play out. Smith really bridged a gap between the darkness of the subject matter and the possibility of humour surrounding it.

It’s around this half of the film that Bryton’s girlfriend Ally (Rodriguez) and Teddy (Osment) embark on a rescue mission to find their friend after receiving worrying voice mails on their phones. They enlist in the help of ex-cop Guy LaPointe who’s quirks and laughable mannerisms seem to make Tusk feel like a different film altogether. This stage links previous homicides to the situation that their friend seems to be in. I think this works in keeping the comedy going within the film although it certainly draws away from the progression of Mr. Tusk within Howe’s home – I did want to see more scenes as to how ‘full walrus’ was achieved before the final moments. LaPointe did make me laugh, though maybe to see a little less of him could have helped.

I’ll certainly recommend Tusk as a film. It’s well made and by all means it’s a good watch for a movie night. It’s entertaining. That’s why The Scream Review rates Tusk 4 skulls out of 5! ☠☠☠☠

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