Running Time: 102 mins
Director: Kevin Smith
Starring: Justin Long, Haley Joel Osment, Michael Parks
Genre: Horror, Comedy
What happens when a film maker, comic book writer, and podcaster sits down and ponders “what’s next?”. A film about a podcaster, of course! Wallace Bryton (Long) famed host of the Not See Party Podcast goes AWOL… or maybe that’s AWOR (absent without recording), causing his best friend and girlfriend to team up with an ex-cop to discover Where’s Wally?!
|I'm just gonna sit here 'til the trolls head back under their bridges.|
When I first watched The Fly it played around in my head for a week until I watched it again, and again (I was ten). Years later I found that The Human Centipede [First Sequence] cycled around in my mind as my love… can you call it love? … as my love of body-mod horror was re-awoken. Prior to watching, had someone told me that Kevin Smith, director of Mallrats and Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back would step up to the plate to create his own body-mod horror I would have accused you of being full of piss and vinegar. But I would have been wrong. Because he did. It’s Tusk. And it’s actually kind of incredible.
Justin Long (in the pseudo-Smith persona) does a remarkable job of mimicking some of Smith’s most noticeable characteristics while fleshing out Wallace in ways that make him both ferociously likable while at the same time pretty detestable. Haley Joel (who’s acting chops I haven’t seen in a while) makes a welcome return to my DVD collection but it’s the performances of Michael Parks (From Dusk Till Dawn) and Johnny Depp that are the most majestic and the most odd. I straight up love Michael Parks. He’s an amazing actor with great instincts, perfect timing and the most formidable delivery, with perhaps only Bryan Cranston as an equal. His is a predominantly a stilled performance. One that allows nerves to rattle around in your bowels as you wait for him to release your gaze. Depp in comparison, is an odd hit. He’s a left, size ten shoe in amongst a collection of size nines. His down and out former detective has touches of Inspector Clouseau crossed with Gerard Depardieu and adds a level of comedy to the story that doesn’t always need to be there.
|The Daughters Smith & Depp pre Yoga Hosers|
Long and Osment had chemistry in the first act. There’s plenty of comedy between the two, but by the time we get to the end of act two-start of act three we no longer require comedy. In fact, the change of tone and pacing has the film stumbling over the moments of tension.
Smith’s writing is revolutionary. Perhaps it’s how he marries his own personal life to such an unexpected genre. Perhaps it’s how his use of dialogue elevates the genre movie to the point of Shakespearian tragedy; whatever it is, it works. Stepping into Tusk doesn’t actually remove you too far from Redbank, the Quik Stop or even Smith’s L.A. Fat-cave. Smith’s sensibilities, personality, and writing style allows it to exist within the same construct and that’s the most frightening thing in the world. It’s the nightmarish other side of the coin. It lingers like a stuttering after-thought, forcing you to look and consider and replay. The look of Tusk is one of construct. The constructed reality of the podcast. The constructed reality of story telling, and even the constructed reality of Mr. Tusk’s domain. It’s beautifully disturbing. There are even moments between Parks and Long that have the look and feel of a stage performance. Where, normally, this would pull you from the movie, Tusk actually makes it even more uncomfortable. It removes the fourth wall and all but puts you in the midst of proceedings. You can’t look away. It’s taking place right in front of you. And yet it’s all done with Smith’s sense of humour… which is probably the most frightening thing of all. Films like The Human Centipede play it straight and in doing so reassure you that you are safe within the genre. When Tusk flicks between comedy, horror, surreal drama, and absurdity it paints with all the colours that life offers.
Truly, a disturbing delight. Tusk is Kevin Smith stepping up to the next level. It’s a film that will only receive more and more love the older it is. In ten years time this movie will sit along the works of Cronenberg and Lynch; it will do so comfortably and it’ll make you laugh and instantly regret doing so.
Take a minute to consider the evidence. Take an evening to watch a movie, read a comic book, then listen to a podcast. Kevin Smith imbues everything he does with everything he is. Tusk might not be the genre you associate with Smith but two minutes of this movie will tell you it's his film. His fingerprints are all over it. His personality all through it. It's the definition of Auteur, and just because he isn't precious about it doesn't make it any less true. @thatkevinsmith is a cultural auteur. His life and work are so interconnected, and that's what art is!
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