TUSK | MOVIE REVIEW

If you wanted to see a man brutalised and turned from human to walrus then this is the film for you. You got to hand it to Kevin Smith to give us something slightly HUMAN CENTIPEDE left-of-centre with TUSK. I would also like to introduce to you all our new Salty Kernel, Emma Bishop. She comes to us from the industry and is also a slightly obsessive cinema attendee which will make her fit in nicely with the Kernels. Welcome Emma! Please enjoy her review of TUSK, which comes from Sony Pictures, is rated MA15+ and runs for 102mins. It is out today on limited art-house release and I can only find it playing at Dendy Newtown in NSW and Cinema Nova in VIC. All the best…………JK.

 

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TUSK | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | MOVIE POSTER

 

REVIEW BY EMMA BISHOP

TUSK is Kevin Smith’s latest audacious flick to grace the screens. An old War Veteran manifests his guilt from killing his only true friend “Mr Tusk” by transforming an arrogant young man into a human walrus. Team plenty-of-body-horror with a whole lot of self-reflexivity and you have TUSK. Smith hauls his audience through a plethora of emotions and believe it or not, the ending leaves you feeling rather sad. If you can get past the fairly fucked-up premise, I suggest you go and experience it for yourself! TUSK is a contemporary take on the cross genre of horror and comedy and the result is phenomenally twisted.

TUSK opens with self-absorbed Wallace (Justin Long) and his sidekick Teddy (Haley Joel Osment) as they record their weekly podcast which mocks viral videos. Wallace announces he is off to Canada to meet latest sensation the Kill Bill Kid – web famous for accidently chopping off his leg with a Samurai Sword. When Wallace arrives in Manitoba he discovers his subject has committed suicide. In desperation for an equally interesting story, Wallace finds himself at the secluded mansion of Howard Howe (Michael Parks). Upon arrival the two strike up conversation (cue the most exciting and witty dialogue seen throughout the film) and before long, Wallace has been drugged and is passed out cold.

 

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TUSK | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | JUSTIN LONG AS WALLACE BRYTON AND MICHAEL PARKS AS HOWARD HOWE

 

The film’s second half shifts its comedic tone, instead becoming significantly more tense and sadistic. While Howe is devious and enjoyable to watch, the storyline becomes increasingly bizarre and long-winded. Back in America and concerned about Wallace’s whereabouts, Teddy and Wallace’s girlfriend Ally travel to Canada in search of answers. Once in Canada they enlist the help of alcoholic, Quebec ex-cop Guy Lapointe who has been hunting Howe for years and believes Wallace is still alive. What results from their meeting is arguably the funniest dialogue of the film and in true Smith style, the least relevant to the storyline. Lapointe (played by a heavily disguised and unnamed Johnny Depp) provides his insight into the case and uses a particularly funny analogy by which he refers to Howe as “The First Wife”. Critics have been heavily divided by Depp’s performance and I have to admit, I wasn’t entirely convinced.

As we finally return to Howard’s mansion and are introduced to Wallace as Walrus for the very first time, any unnerving sensation felt previously is immediately surpassed. I cannot possibly put into words how hideous and deeply disturbing the human-flesh made Walrus costume is. Things become increasingly weird from here on in, as Wallace, now fully conditioned as a Walrus, breaks down and begins to cry. Wallace’s sobbing is broken up intermittently with the neurotic laughter of Howe. The final scenes of TUSK are both gruesome and tragic as audiences are asked “is man indeed a walrus at heart?” whatever the fuck that means!

 

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TUSK | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | MICHAEL PARKS AS HOWARD HOWE

 

There are some genuinely funny moments in this movie paired with Tarrantino-style cameos which come as a pleasant surprise. One of my favourite scenes features both Depp and Smith’s young daughters (who will be front lining the sequel- YOGA HOSERS) in a convenience store exchanging sarcastic banter about Americans. The body horror is certainly not lacking in shock factor and is teamed well with an adequate amount of suspense. All this aside and on the whole, I couldn’t help but feel let down by TUSK. The long sequences of dialogue, while clever in parts, are fairly monotonous and not as savvy as some of Smith’s earlier work. The latter half on the other hand, is sufficiently twisted and terrifying. I didn’t particularly enjoy Long’s performance and his arrogant demeanour felt kind of samey and lacking in creativity. Michael Park’s performance, on the other hand, is fantastic and as compellingly poetic as a modern day Hannibal Lector.

 

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TUSK | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | JUSTIN LONG AS WALLACE BRYTON

 

I would recommend this movie to any horror fan for its clever nods to the genre. There is no doubt Smith is an auteur and you’ve got to give him credit for going where no one else will. In an age of franchises, remakes, and an increasing gap in the market for good horror, TUSK is a beautiful mess and has tonnes of potential.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed Long is the only walrus-man we’ll ever have to see. I can guarantee audiences will not be happy if Smith chooses to Walrus-ise his own daughter in next year’s sequel!

 

2 and a Half Pops

 

 

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