Horror Movie Review #2: Tusk

Posted: September 21, 2014 in Horror Blog
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You are either going to love this movie, or hate it. Period. I loved it; I loved ever single second of it. It was dark and hilarious. And the best part was that I didn’t have to hide my laughter. I was sitting in a theatre filled with people who not only understood, but enjoyed the humor of the film. Tusk is a rare film for me. It’s one of the only films to come out in recent memory (that I can recall) that made me laugh out loud but also grossed out at the same time. The Evil Dead reboot/remake and You’re Next are probably the only movies recently I can remember that made me feel that way. And out of all of them… I think the one that deals with the sick, gross out, tongue in cheek humor the best is Tusk. 

The story follows Wallace Bryton (Justin Long) who is going to Canada to interview a new YouTube sensation- a kid who cuts off his own leg with a katana. But when he gets there he arrives to meet a grieving family; the kid actually killed himself by cutting off the leg. So, stuck in Canada, Wallace has to find a new person to interview otherwise his trip was for nothing. You see him and his friend Teddy (Haley Joel Osment) are hosts of a comedic podcast entitled The Not-See Party. In the podcast they fill their time making fun of people in some pretty harsh ways. Mainly it’s Wallace who does the making fun of, and he does it in his stand up act as well.

At a bar though Wallace finds a notice, pinned up on a wall. It reads that this Howard Howe (Michael Parks) used to be a seaman and has many stories he wishes to share with someone else. Enticed, Wallace seeks this Mr. Howe out hoping to hear these stories. But once he finds the old man, he soon wishes he never had. Well… he wishes he hadn’t the next day, when he wakes up after being drugged and one of his legs has been hacked off.

Teddy and Wallace’s girlfriend Ally (Genesis Rodriquez (who is cheating on Wallace with Teddy but only because Wallace is cheating on her with, like, ALL the “fangirls” of the podcast)) quickly mount up to Canada to search for their missing loved one only to find out from a detective Guy Lapointe (played by Guy Lapointe… not really, but that is how the credit reads. If you can guess or figure out who it ACTUALLY IS without having to IMDB it before hand GOOD JOB. Because… Jesus… man, I love this actor. I almost didn’t realize who it was. Between the makeup and his acting… just, wow) that Wallace was actually probably abducted by this madman he has been hunting for years who seems to be creating some kind of monster. And that is EXACTLY what Howe is doing. Turning Wallace into a monster… WALRUS.

MAN, I wish I was seeing this movie again.

Okay. I hope that anybody who is actually seeing this movie knows, and understands Kevin Smith’s style of directing. At least his new style, which is very much “I really don’t give a single s**t about what anybody thinks.” I loved Red State. It was this same kind of dark humor, but Tusk just perfects it. It brings it to a whole new level and is just like “whoop, there it is.” Unflinching, crass, and in some instances… very truthful. I understand that the humor and this film could be difficult to grasp or enjoy, which I’m not blaming anybody for. I’m not saying I’m better than you because I understood and liked all of the dark humor and jokes. If you don’t like this movie, that’s fine. It WONT be everyone’s cup of tea and I actually think that is part of what makes this film so great. It feels like it’s an inside joke between the viewer, who enjoys it, and the director. And really that is all this film is- is an inside joke. I mean, Kevin Smith wrote it based off an idea they had on his podcast one time!

The fact that they also used many practical effects and makeups in this film is a HUUUGE plus in my book. Seriously… that Mr. Tusk suit is genius. It’s basically a full body Walrus suit  that looks like it was designed by Leatherface. You know, at the bar, when Wallace took the page- at the bottom there are those little tabs that say Call:insertrandom#here. There were several taken. I was wondering if they were going to address what happened to them. Well they did. Big time. And actually before Guy Lapointe even gets any screen time to give his big reveal about how many  Howes is supposedly killed. The faces, and bodies sewn together are done so perfectly and full of detail on this makeup, it makes my heart soar. But do note that it’s graphic. For those who have a weak stomach, just… be prepared.

I am going to take a short timeout here to talk about Michael Parks. Now, this is an ensemble piece I feel. And really every character shines in some way shape or form. But Howard… Howard is one of the best on screen villains I have ever seen. Parks plays him with such a sincere form of psychotics that it genuinely gave me chills watching it. And he seemed to savor it as well. You can tell he really sunk his teeth in to the role, and refused to let go. It was so enthralling to watch him on screen; so captivating, like Howe’s stories. Seriously, if for no other reason… watch this movie for Park’s performance. It’s a thing of beauty.

There are many awkward shots and scenes that seem to drag on just a little too long, for seemingly unneeded reasons and I feel like that is my only real gripe with this film. It tries to have a balance between long, drawn out TENSE scenes and long drawn out humorous scenes. The problem is no viewer really invests themselves in the funny scenes as much as they do the soon-to-be terrifying/uncomfortable/unhinged. The actors do though, which do make these scenes watchable, don’t get me wrong. The actors are in them, no matter the scene, all the way (maybe save for the last few minutes of the film, when I actually felt that the actors were trying really desperately not to start laughing at how ludicrous this all is.) But I digress.

The long funny scenes didn’t need to be that long. For instance, the flashback of Guy Lapointe of how he met Howe before but didn’t realize it. It is like a five to ten minute scene. It went past being funny, to uncomfortable funny, to boring really fast. The jokes became repetitive, and that is probably the only low part for me in the whole film. When you start to have to repeat the same joke three times in your movie you’ve gone in to a somewhat “lazy writing” state I feel. The scene in general is okay, and I’m not saying it’s lazy. It just got old. The audience understood what was going on and what happened and was ready to move on before the scene was. It just seemed to mess with the pacing, and that is my only issue with the whole movie.

The rest of the movie flows and moves along at a good speed and it offers just enough terror to counterbalance the off beat humor. The acting is solid, and most of it is well scripted. It’s a joke of a film. Seriously, it’s supposed to be fun. The plot is ridiculous. A crazy old man wants to turn people in to walrus’. If you go in wanting to watch it in all seriousness you will be one of the people who hate this movie. But that’s generally most Kevin Smith films.

Tusk is a humor I enjoy and welcome. You’ll go from laughing yourself to tears to saying “Oh, that’s effed up” and cringing in a matter of seconds. It’s wonderful. And supposedly this is just the start of a trilogy of dark humor films Kevin Smith has planned. I really hope that is true, cause I want more of this!


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