Tusk

The Podcast that led to Kevin Smith's latest horror flick

Tusk

Director: Kevin Smith

Writer: Kevin Smith

Cast: Justin Long, Michael Parks, Haley Joel Osment, Genesis Rodriguez, Johnny Depp, Harley Morenstein, Ralph Garman, Jennifer Schwalbach Smith, Harley Quinn Smith, Lily-Rose Melody Depp, Ashley Greene, Douglas Banks, Matthew Shively, Zak Knutson

Synopsis: 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.

MPAA Rating: Rated R for some disturbing violence/gore, language and sexual content

Stevennix2001's Rating:

8 / 10

Pros:


- Great comedic timing and performance from Justin Long

- Kevin Smith did a fabulous job constructing such a well written story that seems to pay homage to classic B-movie style monster flicks

- Editing choice in the first act was interesting, as it allowed for the perfect amount of exposition throughout the story; without it feeling like it's too much.

- Great script

- Story is paced rather well

- Jokes are funny without it taking away from the film's dramatic moments.

- Costume and make up artists do a great job constructing the monster featured in "Tusk", as it looks almost too realistic.

Cons:


- Arguably the strangest horror flick I've ever seen

- If you're not into cheesy B-movie style monster flicks, then chances are you probably won't like this movie either.

- Haley Joel Osment's performance felt kind of stiff.

Quite possibly the weirdest and most disturbing film that I've ever seen

Whoever would've thought a prank ad would turn out to be the inspiration behind one of the strangest horror films ever made. A few years ago, a man named Chris Parkinson released an ad on the gumtree site, where he was offering free lodgings to anyone that might be interested. However, he specifically states the condition of this type of arrangement would involve the person wearing a carefully constructed walrus suit for two hours a day. During this time, the person would not be allowed to speak, and they would have to emulate the behavior of a walrus for the landlord's amusement.

Needless to say, Kevin Smith saw this ad, and had a good laugh about it on his podcast show. After that episode, Kevin Smith used that prank as the main inspiration behind his latest horror flick that's already garnering comparisons to other horror classics like "The Human Centipede."

Although I don't know if I would say that this film is quite as disturbing as "The Human Centipede", but I will say that this is probably one of the strangest horror flicks that I've ever seen in my life.

"Tusk" is deeply disturbing and downright creepy. Not in a scary kind of way, but more like you can't believe what the hell you're seeing on the big screen. A part of you will feel disgusted by the monster Kevin Smith creates in this feature. But at the same time, you'll be too shocked to bother looking away.

When I first saw Kevin Smith's new monster known as "Tusk", my jaw literally dropped to the ground. My eyes widened. I shook my head in disbelief. Wishing I could forget the image of this monster, but his disturbingly creepy image haunts my mind even to this day.

Thank goodness I was alone in the theater, when I saw this movie. Otherwise, quite a few people would've been mad when I blurted out loudly, "What the f*** !?!" Yes, that was my exact reaction when I saw Kevin Smith's new monster appear in "Tusk."

Take in mind, I usually never say anything while watching a new movie; particularly ones that I plan to review. It's rare that a film ever makes me do something like that because I know instinctively that all films by definition aren't real to begin with. Therefore, I'm normally able to keep myself from having knee jerk reactions like that. Yet when i saw the monstrosity that Kevin Smith created on the big screen, I couldn't help but blurt that out. It was like I was an eight year old schoolboy again that was watching his first horror comedy, and I couldn't help but say what I was thinking.

Please bear in mind that "Tusk" isn't for the faint of heart, nor would I recommend it for those that are a bit squeamish. However, if you're into monster horror flicks that are weird and freaky as hell, then "Tusk" might be right up your alley.

Unlike most horror features, this one doesn't rely on jump scares to frighten it's audience. In fact, there's no jump scares at all. If anything, the real horror of the story comes from how outrageous the story is, and some of the creepy images of the monster our protagonist is transformed into.

The film starts off following a young comedian by the name of Wallace Bryton (Justin Long), who runs a successful online podcast show called the "Not See Party." Aided by his long time partner and best friend, Teddy Craft (Haley Joel Osment), as the show seems to revolve around the concept of them exploiting people's stories on their podcast for money.

For example. The movie start off with a video showing some kid cutting off his own leg with a sword, when he tried to emulate the sword fighting moves seen in the infamous "Kill Bill" franchise. And from there, Wallace and Teddy have a good laugh at the kid's expense. Laughing at mostly how dumb he was for trying to pull off such a stunt in the video, as they even nicknamed him the "Kill Bill Kid."

Against the advice of his girlfriend, Wallace decides to visit the "Kill Bill Kid" up in Canada to get an exclusive interview for his podcast show the following week. Sadly, the kid committed suicide by the time he manages to get there, so Wallace is forced to believe that his trip was a failure. Or was it?

As he takes a leak in the men's restroom at a bar, he notices an ad about a man looking for tenants. The strange old man writes in his letter how he's been all around the world, and even claims to have some fascinating stories to tell. Intrigued by this ad, Wallace takes it upon himself to visit the old man at his mansion.

The old man is named Howard Howe (Michael Parks), who happens to live out in the countryside. Miles away from civilization.

When we first meet Howard, he comes off as the sweet old man that'll talk your ear off about old stories, while giving you a nice warm cup of tea. But, don't let that nice old smile fool you. He's a crafty devil in disguise that harbors ill intentions for our protagonist.

After they exchange pleasantries, Howard tells an elaborate tale about his past that ranges from meeting Ernest Hemingway (Zak Knutson) to being saved by a walrus. Without giving away too much, a walrus saved Howard's life once; which has caused him to hold walruses in such high regard. In fact, he even keeps a bone that's allegedly part of a walrus' genitals over his fireplace as a souvenir.

As Howard reminisces about his past and fascination with walruses, Wallace sits there listening while savoring the sweet taste of Howard's homemade tea. Unaware that he might have walked into a trap, we soon learn that this might be one trip that Wallace may soon regret.

Throughout the first act of the movie, the film tends to back track quite a bit to expose a bit of history on Wallace's life leading up to his meeting with Howard. It's a clever way to provide exposition about the characters to the audience, while still keeping the story going. Although I can't recall too many Kevin Smith films that have utilized such an editing style, I have to say it works rather well for this feature.

And like most of Kevin Smith's movies, this one is chalked full of humor. The jokes are funny, and "Tusk" seems like a clever homage to classic B-movie monster flicks of the past. At times, "Tusk" can seem a bit corny, but that's part of the film's charm. I especially loved the character interactions leading up to Wallace's disturbing predicament.

Once the third act begins, the film goes from being a cheesy B-movie horror flick to a tragic tale that'll fill ones heart with sadness once we see what Wallace has become. Indeed, this is where Kevin Smith truly shines as a director, as he can masterfully weave the comedic and dramatic elements of a story to compliment each other seamlessly.

Although, Kevin Smith will never get the recognition he truly deserves as a filmmaker. There's no denying that all his films are unique, and "Tusk" is certainly no exception to the rule.

The make up and costume designs for "Tusk" are simply amazing. The monster that "Tusk" features is not only realistic, but downright creepy in it's appearance. You won't be able to look away, and even though you might try telling yourself that it's not real. The sad thing is once you see the monster Kevin Smith has in store for you it's too late. What is seen cannot be unseen, as the image of the monster will stick with you long after you see this feature.

Overall, if you're into B-movie style monster flicks that are freaky as hell, then "Tusk" might be worth checking out. However, if you're not a huge fan of horror, then I probably wouldn't bother with this one. It's definitely an interesting film to say the least. And even if you don't like the film, it's one of those rare stories that'll stick with you long after you've seen it.

© 2014 Steven Escareno

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