JUMPSCARECUT: Tusk (2014)

Year: 2014
Directed by: Kevin Smith
Starring: Justin Long, Michael Parks, Haley Joel Osment, Genesis Rodriguez, Johnny Depp

Written by Megan Williams

This films weird. Really weird. ‘Tusk’ was Kevin Smith’s first, and only, entry into the body horror genre and it starred the late Micheal Parks (Red State) and Justin Long (Jeepers Creepers). In the film, 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 worst as Wallace is drugged and, after waking up, is told that he’ll be surgically, and mentally, turned into a Walrus…Are you still with me?

‘Tusk’ was based on a Gumtree advert from someone who was looking for a lodger who would live in his house, rent-free. However, the catch was that the lodger would be required to wear 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 fan base 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 very long time!)

Unfortunately, the film does have one flaw, and it is called Guy La Pointe. Played by Johnny Depp, Guy is a stereotypical French detective who is hired by Wallace’s girlfriend and his podcast partner to help find him. From the moment Guy is introduced, the film drastically changes its tone to a comedic one without much of a warning. This change in tone doesn’t work at all because you’re constantly being reminded of the grotesque imagery of the main story. The film works so much better when the tone and acting are straight because then the dark humour comes from the absurdity of the situation, and not forced jokes.

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 completely different within the genre, I definitely recommend this. It’s not perfect, but it was a good introduction into the direction that Kevin Smith possibly wanted to take. Whether we’ll see any more horror films from him remains to be seen, but I definitely welcome it.

Megan’s Verdict:

4

 

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