Did you know Kevin Smith made a horror movie? You know: “Clerks”, “Mallrats”, “Chasing Amy”, etc. Yeah, that Kevin Smith. It’s funny because recently I wrote about who I’d want to direct my perfect movie. When you break it down by genre and story structure, never would I ever think that Kevin Smith would have the ability to write/direct/edit a horror picture. It would turn out to be a disaster waiting to happen, right? Like what Ang Lee did to “The Hulk.”
For “Tusk”, as the ending credits rolled and I immediately sat back to write this review, some epiphany came over me. It’s not inconceivable that Kevin Smith could make a passable horror movie. What’s inconceivable is the subject matter it tackles. And… it… is… an… f*ing… weird subject matter.
The movie starts Kevin Smith-e enough:
Two guys are recording a successful raunchy podcast in their homemade studio. Don’t blink because you might miss that one of the podcasters is Haley Joel Osment. That’s right. The very same little kid who coined the catchphrase that catapulted us into the twenty-first century; “I see dead people.” He’s in this.
The movie is actually about his friend, Wallace, who is heads off to Canada to interview a YouTube sensation for the podcast. But when he arrives to The Great White North, he unknowingly stumbles into his wake. Frustrated with the idea of a wasted trip, he finds a note pinned to the bathroom wall in a bar from a man named Howard Howe. The note says that in exchange for some simple household chores and a sympathetic ear to the stories of his incredible adventures, he will offer a free room for the night.
When Wallace arrives, he’s elated to hear the stories of an old man who has seen life in the most tragic, yet amazing ways possible. One of the stories Howard tells is about being shipwrecked on an island only to be saved by a walrus. This is all discussed over a poisonous cup of tea.
For the remaining 70 minutes, I embark on what is surely the strangest movies I’ve seen in recent memory. Wallace’s girlfriend and co-host declare Wallace missing and go searching for him. Meanwhile, he is mutilated and transformed into an f*ing walrus! Grotesquely, I might add. (Kudos to the costume and visual effects department on this one.) As I was watching, the cinematography used leading up to the reveal coupled with Wallace’s screams and Howard’s monologue made it quite terrifying. As I went back and took a look a second time… yep, still terrifying.
It’s hard for me to give a fair opinion on this one. On one hand, Kevin Smith is one of my favorite writers and filmmakers because of his raunchy, comedic cult-classics. On the other, he made a horror movie instead…
Here’s what I will say: the cast certainly makes this movie more than watchable. Michael Parks as the deranged Howard Howe knocks it out of the park. Justin Long’s performance is the best I’ve ever seen of a guy who’s going to be turned into a walrus. Blink twice and you might miss Johnny Depp as the crazy French Canadian detective who helps in the search.
“Tusk” was good because the cast made it a good movie. I have all the love and respect in the world for Kevin Smith. But please, Mr. Smith, just tell us when “Clerks 3” is coming out.