Just because you can do a thing, doesn’t mean you should.
Tusk tells the story of shallow fame-hound “Wallace Bryton” (a laughably mustached Justin Long). While chasing crazy stories for his burgeoning podcast, Wallace is abducted by a crazy person named “Howard Howe” (Red State’s Michael Parks, doing his best Michael Parks). As Howe is a serial killer, Horror was meant to ensue. Or hilarity, I’m not sure. I’m only certain that neither response was approached or elicited very well.
With much of the movie set in Canada, prepare for every tired Great White North stereotype you’ve ever known to be paraded aboot in lame fashion. Such lazy scripting extends to the supporting cast including a somewhat recognizable Johnny Depp (yes, that Johnny Depp), playing French inspector “Guy Lapointe” as a sort of Jack Sparrow cum-Columbo with an outrageous accent (you silly king!).
On top of all that, Wallace becomes a walrus! His lovable bear of a best friend is named “Teddy” (played by suitably portly Oscar nominee Haley Joel Osment), and Guy is a befuddled French inspector who actually gets the job done! All of this (and more!) is intercut with scenes of gore, as Howard dismembers Wallace in stages, slowly transforming him into a walrus. Because Howard was once befriended and saved at sea by a walrus he named “Mr. Tusk”. A walrus he eventually had to kill and eat to survive, for which he’s felt bad about ever since. So he’s been kidnapping hapless strangers, transforming them into walruses in order to not only revisit his friendship with the beast, but also to finally give Mr. Tusk a fighting chance when Howard eventually decides to kill him. And to also raise some questions about the Nature Of Man far better raised by the likes of The Lord of the Flies, and many others. There is very little by way of Theme here, as Smith hopes the audience will be in on the supposed joke since it’s their fault this movie even exists…
As much a defense as it is an explanation, Smith’s own voice over the credits delivers on what an earlier title card teased (reading “Inspired by true events”). This is itself a parody of the whole lost-footage genre, except that Tusk actually has its roots in reality. Apparently Smith and his erstwhile buddy Jason Mewes concocted the plot to Tusk during a podcast, possibly while… shall I say, high. They then invited their listeners to either respond with #walrusyes or #walrusno…
…Which eventually ushered in the grotesquerie that is Tusk: a tongue-in-cheek attempt to make a statement about exploitation films by barely being one. As much as there are nasty scenes, overtly meant to be repulsive, nearly as much if not more screen time is taken up by the supposedly comedic subplot of pursuing the killer.
Tusk attempted to be a meta, Sam Raimi-style horror/comedy but it ends up being neither very funny or scary. It’s a silly, uneven waste of time, as not so subtly underlined by Depp himself, in a Marvel-style post-credits stinger.
Just because The Internet dares you to make a movie doesn’t mean you should.
TUSK – 102 minutes
Rated R for some disturbing violence/gore, language, sexual content, and bad moustaches
Written and Directed by: Kevin Smith