Cinematic Releases: Tusk

Kevin Smith's latest feature gets released this week. We've seen it. Read our toothy review.

"Stop reminding me. I know
all about THAT Die Hard movie."

If you're a fan of Kevin Smith and follow him on social media, you're probably well aware of Tusk, the "Horror-Comedy". It opens this weekend and is easily one of the strangest films I've seen in a while. It's a genre bending feature that blends horror and comedy in to a film that's certain to divide audiences right down the middle.

Smith came upon the idea for Tusk while recording his podcast, having interviewed an English man who placed a hoax advertisement offering free rent to anyone willing to dress as and pretend to be a walrus for two hours a day. You think that's interesting? Wait til you see the movie.

The cast is solid and led by a great performance by Michael Parks, who previously worked with Smith as the deranged Preacher in Red State. Parks is fantastic. He's right in his wheelhouse here playing an intelligent, strong and psychotic role. Justin Long plays the foul mouthed podcast star that finds himself the subject of some very unfortunate events while traveling to Manitoba to conduct an interview for his show. A weighty and much older Haley Joel Osment (The Sixth Sense) teamed with the beautiful Genesis Rodriguez both round out the primary cast while one of the biggest actors in Hollywood brings forth a strange and totally surreal performance. This is a "never saw that coming" bit of stunt casting that adds an additional layer of weird amusement to the film.

"Thank god!!! She sees dead
people too!"
Tusk starts out a little slow but soon finds its footing. Smith changes the pace often as he moves between horror and comedy. It makes for a rather unbalanced feel and tempo that at times felt distracting, but over all manages to work. Try to imagine a Wes Anderson flick, Misery, and The Human Centipede having a bastard love child that likes to make fun of Canada. The result would look a lot like Tusk.

Clearly this movie won't be everyone's cup of tea, but Smith deserves a lot of credit for having the nerve to make it without compromise. Tusk is funny at times, grotesque at others, and takes a huge chance on mixing so many formative genre ideas in to one moody and slightly uneven picture. Much like Red State, he abandons his usual band of characters to try to do something fresh. And it works with a slightly strange appeal that his die hard fans will definitely fall in love with.

"So, you wanna know
where this tusk is going?"
The dialog is pure Kevin Smith, mixing fast, smart banter with profane humor and even some perfectly timed Hemingway quotes. And the friendship between Long and Osment is pure Smith offering up a little throwback to characters he's written before.

Overall, if you like Kevin Smith and especially if you liked Red State then I think you'll enjoy Tusk. It's not Smith's best work but it is certainly his most peculiar effort to date. That alone makes it worth the watch.

-Brian Rohe