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Sunday, October 05, 2014

Sean Kelly

My Thoughts on Tusk

TuskKevin Smith makes a return to filmmaking with the twisted horror-comedy Tusk. Wallace Bryton (Justin Long) is the host of a podcast called “Not See Party,” where he and his friend Teddy Craft (Haley Joel Osment) ridicule weird individuals.  Wallace travels to Winnipeg to interview an internet celebrity, but is shocked to find out that the individual has died.  Not wanting to waste a trip to Canada, Wallace enters a bar looking for a new interview subject and stumbles upon a note in a bar washroom from a man named Howard Howe (Michael Parks), who is looking for a lodger.

Wallace travels to Howard’s estate and hears his story, which includes the time he was saved from drowning by a walrus named Mr. Tusk.  Wallace quickly finds himself drugged by Howard, who plans to sew him into a lifelike walrus suit.  As Wallace undergoes torture and torment by his captor, his girlfriend Ally (Genesis Rodriguez) and Teddy begin a search for him, with the help of Quebecois detective Guy Lapointe (Johnny Depp).

When Kevin Smith’s previous film Red State was released in 2011, he was ready to retire from filmmaking and focus on his podcasting and other endeavours. Smith seemed to regain the filmmaking bug when he recorded an episode of his Smodcast Podcast, in which he and Scott Mosier discussed an ad found on the British classifieds website Gumtree (later revealed to be a prank), which was offering free lodging under the condition that the lodger dress up as a walrus.  The discussion turned into a theoretical summary for a horror film, described as the “warm and fuzzy version of Human Centipede.”  After Smith’s fanbase supported the idea with the #WalrusYes Twitter hashtag, Tusk officially came into being.

With Kevin Smith being first and foremost known as a comedy director, it is always interesting to see what he does with different genres.  While considered a horror film, Tusk is better described as a pretty twisted dark comedy.  The concept of turning someone into a walrus is inherently ridiculous and you can’t help but laugh at Howard Howe’s crazed rantings about whether or not humans are really walruses deep inside.  Smith opted to keep most of the torture and violence off-camera, so the audience is just left to see the end results of what Howard does to Wallace, which really needs to be seen to be believed.

Presumably, this concept of a crazed man turning another man into a walrus could only go so far as a feature film.  As such, the film features quite a few lengthy dialogue scenes as filler.  One such scene, which does not really fit well into the film, is a flashback of Guy Lapointe’s encounter with Howard Howe, who was pretending to be a simple-minded man.  Out of all the dialogue scenes in the film, this is the one that is most obviously filler and it really slows down the pacing of the plot.  As perhaps the film’s most poorly kept secret, Johnny Depp’s uncredited appearance as Guy Lapointe, with a pretty terrible French Canadian accent, is probably the most “take it, or leave it” element of the film. As for Genesis Rodriguez and Haley Joel Osment, they are really only in the film to move the plot forward, as they they try to rescue Wallace.

I have to admit that, when it comes to Kevin Smith delving into other genres, I probably like Red State much better than Tusk.  However, I will still say that I enjoyed the film’s twisted plot, which I have to admit that I found more hilarious than scary. The whole concept of the film is pretty ridiculous and it made for a fun watch.

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Sean Kelly

About Sean Kelly -

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described ├╝ber-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).