It takes a special kind of twisted genius to make a good horror film, and Kevin Smith’s latest creation is no stranger to the extremely-fucking-weird. You’re likely familiar with some of his movies already and while there is a definite vibe to the film that reflects that of Clerks, I’ll give you fair warning and say that it is very, VERY different.
Listeners of Kevin Smith’s podcast, Smodcast, have likely heard the backstory and inspiration to Tusk. Smodcast 259 - The Walrus and the Carpenter, takes you through the earliest moments of turning cogs as Kevin and his producer, Scott Mosier, read through an ad posted on Gumtree UK about an old man looking for a lodger. The offer is free accommodation in a large house with one condition - the lodger must wear a walrus costume for two hours a day. Sound weird? I recommend tracking down the podcast, as it’s free and hilarious. It just might prepare you for what you’ll see in Tusk, which is infinitely weirder.
The film follows Wallace Bryton (played by Justin Long), a podcaster who gathers stories to then relay to his accomplice on their show - The Not-See Party. He winds up in the Great White North, or Canada, to follow a story that falls through at the last minute. In a frozen wasteland with no stories to share, he has the good (ultimately terrible) fortune of happening upon an advert posted above the urinals in a bar from an old man seeking a lodger.
Here is where things go from bad to worse, and I’m hesitant to divulge too much about the film, even though the podcast is more than a year old and relays the plot almost entirely. The original story sounded somewhat disconcerting, and combined with Kevin Smith’s imagination we arrive at a destination that’s both horrific and hilarious. Till now I hadn’t seen an American writer/director tangle with black comedy and make it work, but Tusk made it work.
Perhaps the premise is what is so enticing about Tusk. The same morbid curiosity that drew people to theatres for monstrosities like The Human Centipede and Saw films, comes from the simple desire to see something truly disturbing. Tusk delivers in that respect, and the revelation of Wallace butchered into a man/walrus hybrid was met with a chorus of disbelieving, hysterical laughter in the cinema.
Frankly, Tusk isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea. The film is rife with inside jokes, comedically atrocious depictions of Canadian accents and the usual Smith brand vulgarity. Despite all that, the humour remains charming, the acting is terrific and you certainly won’t require knowledge of his 300+ Smodcasts to fully understand the film.
That Tusk made it over the pond is a treat, and you should go see it - if for no other reason than to put to rest the question that has plagued mankind for centuries: “Is man indeed a walrus at heart?”. You’ll find it screening from the 9th October at Dendy Cinemas in Newtown.