TUSK

★★★

Dir: Kevin Smith

(2014)

Certainly one of the weirdest American films of the year and definitely the oddest work to date from Kevin Smith, Tusk is part creature horror film, part detective story and part total shambles. An idea which arose between long time producer Scott Mosier and Smith on an episode of Smiths popular podcast after a twitter link found them laughing hysterically at a lodger wanted advert on Gumtree. Free lodging for anyone prepared to listen to the ramblings of a crazy old fool while dressed as a walrus. Smith and Mosier soon realised that this had the twisted beginnings of a Edgar Allen Poe horror short or a B grade Hammer Horror and less than a year later they actually stopped laughing long enough to make the film happen.

tusk-movie

Smith and Mosier are replaced on-screen by Justin Long and Haley Joel Osment a podcast couple whose show, The Not See Party, has taken off. Wallace (Long) heads off to interview a recent viral sensation nicknamed the “Kill Bill Kid” who accidentally chopped his own leg off with a samurai sword. The YouTube obsessed blogger heads off, alone, to the American North and Canada. Smith throws a few obvious U.S.A Vs. Canada jibes (of which, as a writer, he should know better) before Wallace discovers the sad demise of the Kill Bill Kid. A note in a bathroom points him towards Michael Park‘s, a lonely old man in a big house in the woods, who promises Wallace the weird relief in his stories for which he has travelled so far.

Smith twists the tale into a surgical shocker with Long sedated and Parks’ mad doctor slowly altering the obnoxious Wallace into his pet walrus. It’s bizarre enough to be a real treat at times but the directors haphazard style can’t focus enough to score a real joke or a heartfelt scare. Tusk lives in this weird carnival freak show tone stepping clumsily across genres as Haley Joel Osment’s Teddy and Wallace’s girlfriend Ally (Genesis Rodriquez) team up a clued up detective named Guy Lapointe (one of the more cringing Jonhny Depp performances of recent years) to find the unlikable jock before he goes “full walrus”.

Shapeless and without atmosphere as a horror and kind of tasteless and juvenile as a comedy, there’s something else here; Something about Tusk‘s oddness which almost but not quite manifests itself into a unique and sad finale. Hearing Mosier and Smith literally create the film in the Smodcast episode is a real joy but sadly the film can’t ever live up to the inspired live doobie fuelled brainstorm.    

___________________________________