Red State director Kevin Smith takes the helm for this horror film starring Justin Long as a podcaster who is targeted by a sadistic killer while attempting to land an interview with a misanthropic adventurer (Michael Parks). Genesis Rodriguez and Haley Joel Osment co-star.
Sometimes, you have to wonder how a film gets made. With Tusk, the origin mirrors the plot of the film. Kevin Smith hosts a weekly podcast with producer Scott Mosier, and one week they were pranked by a fan who posted an ad offering free room and board in exchange for dressing like a walrus 24/7. The two then spent an hour coming up with a movie treatment based on this idea. Smith then invited his fans to vote on whether he should make the movie, using the hashtags #WalrusYes and #WalrusNo on Twitter. The posters for the film include #WalrusYes as a tagline, so you can guess which way voting went.
The result? A bizarre, alternately grotesque and boring attempt to flesh out an out-there concept. Working for the film is Michael Parks, who takes Smith’s monologues and turns them into enjoyable, enrapturing prose. Parks commits to the material, making the character of Howard Howe one that’s impossible to ignore.
Unfortunately, Parks is the one working part of an otherwise immobile film. Justin Long plays podcaster Wallace Bryton as smarmy (and subsequently terrified) decently enough, but the film tries to expand its world slightly once Howe actually goes through with his plan to turn Wallace into a walrus. To pad the running time, Wallace’s co-host and girlfriend (Haley Joel Osment and Génesis Rodriguez, respectively) hunt for him, and they’re joined by a heavily made-up Johnny Depp giving a phoned-in performance. Osment and Rodriguez aren’t able to sell the material, which makes their scenes – which dominate the latter half of the film – drag.
Throw in some incredibly lazy, stereotypical Canadian-based humor, and there’s really not much to make this film worth recommending. To his credit, Smith has shown some growth as a director in his visual output as of late, and Tusk may be his best-looking film. It’s unfortunate that it’s paired with such underwhelming material. Not to mention one of the most disturbing sights I’ve ever seen on film, and I’ve seen some disturbing content reviewing films.