Monday, September 22, 2014

[Review] Tusk

Kevin Smith's latest film Tusk is one of the more bizarre and demented gross-out horror flicks I've ever seen, and I just couldn't look away. Be warned though--this is definitely tailored for a niche audience, and it's the type of movie where if an unsuspecting viewer stumbled into the wrong theater, they might faint in the corridor.

Wallace (Justin Long) is a douchey podcast host (the podcast is called the "Not-See Party"), and his co-host is played by Haley Joel Osment, a chubby and shaggy smart-mouth who somehow manages to resemble what you envision most podcast hosts to look like. Anyway, Wallace's specialty is conducting interviews with weird people from the corners of the Internet. When he travels to Canada in order to interview a viral video kid, only to find out that the kid has died, he's left S.O.L.--that is until he sees a mysterious letter on a bathroom wall from a guy with lots of stories to tell.

He goes by the name of Howard Howe and he resides in a dark mansion hidden in the middle of the woods in Manitoba. The moment Wallace steps into the creepy house, it's obvious that there's something suspicious about Howard. Wallace gets drugged, passes out, and Howard plans to turn him into a walrus (yes, a walrus) through some disturbingly grotesque surgical procedures. It's a total WTF premise, and it's as weird yet straightforward as it sounds. But the spectacle is executed with surprising creativity. The actual process of the transformation is never shown, which could be a good or bad thing depending on your threshold for this sort of thing, but this tactic works because we're just as clueless as the protagonist is until he awakes to the shocking reveals in all their twisted glory.

The script is full of Kevin Smith's usual rambling dialogue and it contains a handful of funny and provocative quips, but the writing is unexpectedly focused. However, the flashbacks and "back at home" scenes can't help but feel lame--like flimsy padding for a stretched story. Thankfully, the "back at home" section gets an enormous boost when a significant cameo enters the picture. This cameo is present in the entire third act of the film, so it's much more than an average uncredited bit. I think the cat is already out of the bag, but as tempted as I am to talk more about it, I figure it's best to leave it a secret for now, especially for those hellbent on being surprised. Though I will say: it is awesome.

Tusk definitely isn't for everyone, but the off-the-wall nature of what's taking place on screen calls for pure amusement. It will certainly find a place in the cult hearts of campy horror enthusiasts, making it a good piece to add to the midnight freak show. This film isn't bat-shit insane - it's walrus-shit insane.


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