Review: Tusk (2014)

Directed by: Kevin Smith | 97 minutes | comedy, drama, horror | Actors: Justin Long, Michael Parks, Genesis Rodriguez, Haley Joel Osment, Johnny Depp, Harley Morenstein, Ralph Garman, Jennifer Schwalbach Smith, Harley Quinn Smith, Lily-Rose Melody Depp, Ashley Greene, Douglas Banks, Matthew Shively

Fancy something special? ‘Tusk’ serves you at your beck and call! This horror comedy shows a completely different side of Kevin Smith. The director seemed to have lost his way for a long time, but now that he is leaving Hollywood and making films on his own again, he is performing better. The bizarre and grotesque ‘Tusk’ is – regardless of your opinion – a film that will stay with you anyway …

The arrogant and self-righteous Wallace (Justin Long) is a podcaster who interviews people with quirky stories. Well, actually publicly humiliated. Everything for the listening figures. After seeing a crazy YouTube video starring a Canadian kid, Wallace decides to pack up and go to Canada to set up an interview with the guy. His girlfriend Allison (Genesis Rodriguez) and his friend and fellow podcaster Teddy (Haley Joel Osment) start to worry when they don’t hear from Wallace for days. It turns out that the podcaster has fallen into the clutches of a deranged old sailor (Michael Parks) with strange plans.

You have to watch ‘Tusk’ without prior knowledge, because then this deranged movie will hit the hardest. Halfway through the film, Smith pulls out all the stops and you will stare at the screen in pure surprise. Whatever you think of this film, you can’t blame Smith for not showing any guts to accusations. He has made a horror comedy that a major film company would never have released in this form. Coarse and tasteless, but also funny and special. Sometimes even moving. This is partly due to the strong cast. The usually so sympathetic Long succeeds in portraying a very annoying character with whom you will eventually sympathize. Parks plays a very freaky villain in a hypothermic way who eventually derails enormously. Child star Haley Joel “I See Dead People” Osment has expanded considerably, but fortunately his acting talent has grown with him. Nice to see him in a movie again. The highlight of ‘Tusk’, however, is the supporting role of an unrecognizable Hollywood star who portrays a somewhat dubious cop.

‘Tusk’ is a remarkable film, but not a classic. Smith is at his best in sharp (relationship) comedies. The brilliant 1997 ‘Chasing Amy’ is his magnum opus. Toilet humor, sharp dialogues and melodrama formed an organic whole. It earned him entry into Hollywood. He has never been able to match the level of that film. After the flopped Bruce Willis vehicle ‘Cop Out’ from 2010, Smith decided to turn his back on Tinseltown and release films on his own. In 2011 he delivered the action thriller ‘Red State’. For him an atypical film full of violence.

Also ‘Tusk’ is a film you don’t expect from Smith. The director struggles to find the right tone. Humor, horror and drama are portrayed unbalanced. The film is in an identity crisis and does not know what it wants to be: a (tragi) comedy or horror film. There is no flow and that results in tough passages and a collapsed tension arc. The dialogues are not equally strong either. Parks, in particular, gets pompous sentences that may sound impressive on paper, but seem out of place in practice. It comes across as artificial. The first hour ‘Tusk’ is not always that interesting, but after that all brakes are released and you are treated to a remarkable horror spectacle.

Dear horror fan, see this film so open-minded and keep in mind that there is an attack on the good taste and strong stomach. Enjoy!

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