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USA 2014
Directed by
Kevin Smith
102 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Andrew Lee
3 stars


Synopsis: Wallace Bryton (Justin Long) is a podcaster who specialises in finding humiliating videos of people and laughing at them. When his latest target invites him to come and talk he takes up the opportunity and flies to Canada. But things go awry and he ends up in the house of Howard Howe (Michael Parks), who has a sinister plan for Wallace.

I like Kevin Smith films as a general rule, he’s not always great, but he’s usually entertaining. He’s also capable of surprising on occasion, as he did with the underrated Red State. Sadly, Tusk is not as good as that, or Dogma, but it’s still enjoyable, eventually. It’s the eventually that’s the problem.

Wallace is an obnoxious character and we spend a bit too long with him being an arsehole, to the extent that the pacing starts to really suffer. About halfway through I found myself checking my watch to see how much longer I had to sit through this thing. That doesn’t sound like a three star film really, does it? But it gets better.

Once Howard has Wallace well and truly in his clutches, the story starts to get interesting. Howard is a psychopath attempting to work out a deeply complicated relationship he once had with a walrus. And he does this by abducting people and stitching them into a walrus suit he’s constructed from human skin. The horror element is neatly handled and Michael Parks makes for an excellent psychopath. Once this is all underway, Justin Long doesn’t have much to do except scream and howl, but he does a really good job of communicating emotion buried beneath the prosthetics of the gruesome suit.

The other bit that enlivens the proceedings is the introduction of Guy Lapointe (a heavily made-up Johnny Depp) who is hunting Howe and has lost his mind somewhat from dealing with the horrors of Howe’s murders for years. Hayley Joel Osment and Genesis Rodriguez are also solid as the best friend and girlfriend respectively, though a subplot about them having an affair due to Wallace being an arsehole doesn’t really go anywhere.

Tusk is more of a curiosity than something destined for cult status. Truthfully, it’s a bit of a mess. But I did laugh out loud a couple of times, though there were only five other people in the cinema and they weren’t laughing. If you want to experience this in a cinema, you’d better hurry, I can’t see it lasting very long. And yes, Smith doesn’t ignore the obvious soundtrack choice. Fleetwood Mac gets an excellent workout in the climactic set-piece. The film is kind of worth it just for that.




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