Tusk (2014) – Review

What the f#ck.

I’ve seen a fair few screwed up few films in my time but this really took the cake, in good and bad ways. Kevin Smith has returned to the screen after directing the so-so horror film Red State. I have never been a huge fan of Kevin Smith, I find his films often contain lengthy monologues by actors who just seem to be playing a mouth piece for Smith. However I decided to push my prejudices of Mr Smith aside as the premise for this film seemed too damn delicious.

Tusk tells the story of a podcaster (Justin Long) in the US who travels to Canada interviewing weird and wonderful people he can put onto his podcast. On his travels he meets Howard Howe (Michael Parks) a retired seaman with many stories to tell, most notably one about a walrus. It is from here the audience are taken down the rabbit hole when Howes reveals he has other plans for Long’s character.

I must say the first half of the film is quite wonderful. It’s nice to see Long playing against his type as what best can be described as a ‘douche’. His first interaction with Howes in his spectacularly creepy house really are spellbinding. Michael Parks blows his scenes out of the water as the perfect antagonist and when his true plan for Long’s character finally comes into fruition he delivers some of the most crazy/hilarious lines in the film. However it is at this point, probably half way through the film that things start to go awry and not in a good way.

Throughout Tusk Kevin Smith cuts to flashbacks which become distracting and takes the viewer out of the action, the jarring transition of the flashbacks come across as lazy and filler for the film. These scenes happen more often as the film progresses and it feels like Smith added them in because he needed to pad out the runtime. It is also at the half way point in Tusk we are introduced to a detective played by a secret actor (it’s JNY DEPP). Now, boy does he give a good case study on how to ruin a film by being a cameo. His scenes as eccentric French-Canadian detective are annoying and meandering at best. I’m not really sure what has happened to Johnny Depp in the last few years, he seems unable to hit his stride but I guess that is a discussion for another time. In Tusk he adds nothing to the story and takes the spotlight away from any of the actors he shares scenes with. To put it in simple terms he is just very unfunny.

But back to the good! What works splendidly in the second half is when Park’s plan is carried out on Long’s character. Kevin shows the audience images which you will never be able to wipe from your brain no matter how hard you try. I mean I’ve seen Human Centipede 2 and Tusk seemed to trump it in crazy kookiness.

In the classic sense Tusk’s not a great film but damn was it fun to watch. It reminded me of films such as Toxic Avenger, where the ‘so bad and f@$ked up its good’ rule comes into play. However the film could have definitely been made with more precision, allowing it to be even funnier and more cohesive as a film in whole. For it’s few flaws Kevin Smith tries something new in Tusk and I have to give him props for that! Tusk is an entertaining, at times frustrating, nutty horror film and that’s just fine by me.

3/5

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