Tusk – USA, 2014

tusk kevin smith poster

‘Let me tell you a story…’

Tusk is a 2014 American horror comedy film written and directed by Kevin Smith, based on a story from SModcast. It stars Michael Parks (The Evictors; From Dusk Till DawnWe Are What We Are), Justin Long, Haley Joel Osment, Genesis Rodriguez and Johnny Depp.

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The idea for the movie came during the recording of SModcast 259 The Walrus and The Carpenter. In the episode, Smith with his longtime friend and producer Scott Mosier discussed an article featuring a Gumtree ad where a homeowner was offering a living situation free of charge, if the lodger agrees to dress as a walrus. The discussion went on from there, resulting in almost an hour of the episode being spent on reconstructing and telling a hypothetical story based on the ad. Smith then told his Twitter followers to tweet “#WalrusYes” if they wanted to see their hypothetical turned into a film, or “#WalrusNo” if they didn’t. A vast majority of Smith’s following agreed that the film should be made. The post on Gumtree was in fact a prank post by noted Brighton poet and prankster Chris Parkinson, a fan of Smith who then hoped he would get in touch with him so he could be involved in the film. Kevin Smith eventually hired Parkinson as an associate producer…

When podcaster Wallace Bryton goes missing in the backwoods of Manitoba while interviewing a mysterious seafarer named Mr. Howe, his best friend and girlfriend team with an ex-cop to look for him…

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Reviews:

” …a creepy, funny film that punctures the inflated ego of the geek made good. An imprisonment horror, like Misery if Annie Wilkes had gone beyond hobbling to stitching in fins. Long is superb as Wallace, the cocky little punk who barges into terror while looking for a story to exploit. Better still is Michael Parks, a regular for Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, who plays Howard Howe, the ancient mariner who traps him in his net.” Henry Barnes, The Guardian

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“Had Smith been more disciplined, the film’s deliberately absurd plot twists might have been more alienating, and funny. But even a Kevin Smith apologist like myself will readily admit that “discipline” and “Kevin Smith” do not belong in the same sentence. Tusk is bearable thanks in no small part to its game cast, particularly character actor Michael Parks’s Vincent Price-esque baddy. And yes, Smith does get in a few good scares, especially during the movie’s creature scenes. But as it is, Tusk‘s sophomoric gag is rarely as funny or creepy as it could have been.” Simon Abrams, RogerEbert.com

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“ …Tusk unquestionably belongs to Parks, and to Long, who seems at first to be cast in a mild variation on his well-traveled, shit-eating-grin-hipster persona, but who ends up having the most emotionally and physically demanding role of his career — one that, for reasons which become clear as the movie progresses, restricts him from using many of an actor’s usual expressive tools. To put it in the movie’s own, inimitable terms, he goes “full walrus” and then some, building to a finale that’s sincerely touching in a way no one watching a movie with this plot would have any justifiable reason to suspect.” Scott Foundas, Variety

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” …Smith’s approach here is far too self-conscious, resulting in a film where the shifts from camp horror to stoner comedy (and, on occasion, straight-faced melodrama) feel calculated, as opposed to being driven by mad inspiration. It has a memorably weird premise, sure, but Kevin Smith’s Tusk generally fails to be either that funny and/or scary… much less interesting.” Sandy Schaefer, Screen Rant

“To its sentimentally off-kilter end, Tusk‘s comedy remains a grotesquely solipsistic fabric stitched from lame digs at Canada, beside-the-point literary references, and one insufferably indulgent Johnny Depp cameo. And as a whole, it suggests the worst possible gene splice of a barbed Terrance and Phillip South Park appearance, Fargo‘s blithe condescension, and the smuggest of Quentin Tarantino pastiches.” Ed Gonzalez, Slant Magazine

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