This film is weird. Really weird. The film I’m talking about is ‘Tusk’, which is Kevin Smith’s recent film. Unlike ‘Clerks’ and ‘Mallrats’, this one explores the body horror genre and stars Micheal Parks (Red State) and Justin Long (Jeepers Creepers). Justin Long plays a podcaster called Wallace Bryton, who travels to Canada and meets Howard Howe (Micheal Parks), a seemingly charming man who tells him a story of when he became lost at sea and was saved by a Walrus. Unfortunately, things take a turn for the worse as Wallace is drugged and, after waking up, is told that he’ll be surgically, and mentally, turned into a Walrus. Yeah.
Tusk was based on a Gumtree (the UK equivalent to Craigslist) advert from someone who was looking for a lodger who would live in his house, rent-free. He then explains that he spent some time stuck on an island with only a Walrus for company and says that the animal was the only friend he ever had. Therefore, all he asks in return was for the lodger to dress in a Walrus costume and act as the creature for two hours each day. This ad was read out by Kevin Smith on his podcast show Smodcast and captured his imagination so he and his podcasting partner, Scott Mosier, started pitching the idea and eventually sent out a Twitter hashtag (‘WalrusYes’ or ‘WalrusNo’) to see if his fanbase would want to see this film made.
Through its weirdness, ‘Tusk’ is one of the most beautifully shot films I’ve ever seen, with every shot looking like a work of art (even if the content isn’t pleasant). It’s also creepy and disturbing, mainly thanks to the film’s imagery and the extremely talented Parks. Long’s performance is also outstanding, even when wearing the nightmarish Walrus costume (the human/walrus screams will stay in my head for a long time!)
Unfortunately ‘Tusk’ does have one flaw, which is a character called Guy La Pointe. Played by Johnny Depp, Guy is a stereotypically French detective whom Wallace’s girlfriend and podcast partner hire to find him. From the moment he’s introduced, the film tries to change its genre to comedy without much of a warning and doesn’t really work. It’s a shame but, at the same time, the film doesn’t let its audience forget the horrifying imagery of Wallace’s fate, so it does redeem itself.
Despite its flaw, ‘Tusk’ is creepy, disturbing and weird and this won’t be a film for everyone. If you’re into the body horror genre or just want to watch something different within the horror genre, I definitely recommend this. It’s not perfect, but it’s a good introduction into the new direction Kevin Smith has taken.
The trailer for ‘Tusk’ can be seen below: