TuskA24 Films
2014
R

“Are you really mourning your loss of humanity? I don’t understand. Who in the hell would want to be human?”

I freely admit that I am a fan of Kevin Smith. One might say “nominal fan”, as it’s mostly his movies that I’m familiar with, with the criminally short-lived Clerks animated television series and videotaped speaking engagements as supplemental material. Even though I’m aware of the other non-movie making endeavors, I haven’t really committed to check out his podcast–the Smodcast, if you will–nor have I read any of the comic books that have spun out of his mind, as well as the reality show based on his comic shop. Okay, I did read his run on the Green Arrow comics back in the day. I’m beginning to babble again, sorry.

Tusk is Kevin Smith’s second foray into the horror movie genre, after Red State. I have yet to watch Red State, so I have no idea how good that movie is (though I’ve seen varying reports on that floating around the interwebs). The premise of Tusk caught my attention, though: a podcaster travels to Canada and stays with a reclusive wheelchair-bound old man under the auspices of gathering stories of the man’s very abundant life for the podcast. Unfortunately, the old coot has other plans for the lad…plans that involve transforming him into a walrus. And as the hapless podcaster slowly loses his humanity at the hands of the madman, his best friend, girlfriend and an odd French Canadian detective are on the trail to find him.

I have to admit, after hearing about the premise, I was more than a bit skeptical about whether or not it was going to work. Mind you, Smith has a talent for taking absurd-sounding premises and making them work smashingly in one form or another. But Tusk, on the outset, sounded at best like a satire on the torture porn flicks that brought us the likes of Human Centipede. Mind you, I have yet to acquire enough self-loathing to actually watch Human Centipede, so I’m just going to assume my baseless speculations on this issue is the correct one. You would be surprised at how well doing that works.

Anyway, I have to say that I rather enjoyed watching Tusk. It was a very tense slow-boiler of a thriller horror movie, letting the story itself build with some interesting character development, some very well-written dialogue, and some rather good performances by the cast themselves. As a matter of fact, I would say that a lot of my ability to suspend my disbelief relied on the believability of the characters (as it does in other movies). Especially with the dialogue. With a lesser actor, a line like “You will be a walrus, or you will be nothing at all!” would come off as completely goofy; Michael Parks, however, lends a very credible amount of dramatic weight to the material, and you can tell he’s savoring every last bit of his performance.

Overall, I enjoyed Tusk. It was tense, at times hard to watch (for all the right reasons), and has an ending that didn’t insult my intelligence what so ever. Which is a rare thing, considering a lot of the genre movies I’ve seen. I would urge anyone to check out Tusk at least once.

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