Tusk is a movie about a young man who is held captive and mutilated to become a monstrous human/walrus creature. Straight up, if that premise doesn't excite you, do not see this movie. But if the idea of a Kevin Smith man-rus movie sparks your morbid curiosity, then boy, have we got a winner for you.
Kevin Smith's horror movie was inspired by his very successful podcast, SModcast. And it's that inspiration that makes Tusk both great and a total mess. The entire idea behind the story was brought to Smith's attention thanks to his listeners. And it's a great idea, but so much time is spent on inside jokes that I'm assuming are a larger part of the SModcast community that the horror movie becomes a bit of a comedy, which is OK because I still totally loved this flick and cherished its unrelenting weirdness.
The film is centered around Justin Long, a failed nerdy standup comic turned successful snarky podcaster. This character Wallace (eh? eh?) makes his money interviewing the world's living human oddities and shamed Internet viral figures. He then returns to his podcasting home base with co-caster Haley Joel Osment to verbally lacerate these poor folks. On his latest quest for podcasting fodder, Wallace heads to Canada and it's there that he runs into Howard Howe (Michael Parks), the attacker who drugs and mutilates our hero.
This is all I'm going to tell you, because while this sounds like an entire film, it's only about half of Tusk. Shit goes way left field in a totally bizarre way. Yes, more bizarre than a human walrus. Gigantic cameos drop out of the sky to help Wallace's loved ones find him; Canadian jokes fly and Wallace and Howard bond in a very strange way that will probably haunt my darkest dreams forever.
It's the humor that made me love Tusk, but the horror beats were the big disappointment—specifically the walrus man reveal. The audience didn't have to work for it, and the anticipated body horror is only vaguely played with, then quickly covered up with campy costumes, which this movie loves a little too much. It's a bummer, too, because one particular moment during walrus surgery brought chills down my spine, but that feeling was swiftly buried under a mountain of jokes. Funny jokes, but still... it's a bummer.
The fact that the Tusk marketing team has created its own strain of promotional weed makes PERFECT sense. That's not a dig. You should see this movie stoned, so stoned.
What works is Justin Long, Michael Parks and the aforementioned cameo role that I won't reveal. Long sells the horror, just fucking sells it. Wallace catches on fast as to what's happening, and when it sets in, it's horrifying. Meanwhile, Parks continues to wax on, intellectually dropping the proper amount of literary references (and dick jokes) that appear in most Smith banter moments. They're great, and when they're on screen, you cannot rip your eyes away from them. I know Long has done horror before, but his work here really wanted me to see him take a stab at this genre in a more serious form. Even when things go way too long (and they often do in this movie), it's still enjoyable to watch simply thanks to the actors.
Long story short, if you can't get past the premise, don't go see this movie. This isn't a film for your friend who had to be convinced to see Guardians of the Galaxy. This is for people who want to get really high and spend most of the film trying not to piss themselves from laughing.