I have been a fan of Kevin Smith for many years. I first encountered his brand of fun crude story telling accidentally while perusing the shelves of a video store (remember those?) looking for something entertaining to fill an afternoon. Over the years he has stuck with his writing style but has decided to venture into new genres. With Tusk he has successfully ventured into horror.
Tusk has an absolutely ridiculous premise, a man captures another and transforms him into a walrus. Yes you read that right. Even as a fan of Smith’s work, I did not rush to see this film fearing it would be crap. But I was wrong, it is well written, acted, directed, and edited. It made me…uncomfortable.
Justin Long plays his role well. As Wallace Bryton he goes from obnoxious douche to fearful and sniveling seamlessly. You believe his fear and it is warranted. Micheal Parks portrayal of as his captor, Howard Howe, is mesmerizing and terrifying at the same time. His abrupt jumps from melodic story teller to manic oppressor is jarring. His melodic almost hypnotizing tone is one of the things that makes this movie so unsettling.
All the supporting cast do a great job. None of the characters are superfluous or wasted. They all have a purpose and add to the story in some way. The only character I do have any kind of problem with is Guy Lapointe. He was just….over done. And after having my suspicions and then verifying that yes, that is Johnny Depp, I understand why. The role was played very gimmicky. There was no nuance to it. But despite the character’s short comings he was an integral part to the overall story.
I also have 1 more problem with the film. This is a pretty big problem to have as its reveal should have been the gasping moment, instead it made me chuckle. It was the “walrus”. I have no clue how it could have been done better and look overall less comical but it sort of failed in its intentions. But you get over that quickly as the story continues.
Even though the overall feeling of the movie is generally uneasy, Smith manages to still inject some of his cavalier humour allowing for a bit of a reprieve. Without the lighter aspects of the film I don’t think the darker parts would have worked as well as they did.
No, Tusk isn’t perfect but it is a good chilling bit of horror. It isn’t overly gory but the gore that is there works and despite the ludicrous nature of the overall story it surprisingly works.