ESC

‘Tusk:’ I Am The Walrus

This movie is based on a podcast episode, which was a discussion of a Twitter post of an online apartment listing, and it feels just like that. You know how when you’re in film school, and you hear a weird story and you’re like, “Woah that’d make a cool movie,” and you sound like Keanu Reeves in Bill and Ted because that’s what dumb people sound like? And it ends up being a disaster because yeah, it was a weird story, but no, that doesn’t mean you should slap it on screen without like, thinking a little bit about how to actually make it a good movie first? Well, that’s what Tusk reminds me of.

Not entirely a disaster, yet not nearly comprehensive enough, Tusk’s failures can be attributed entirely to the sentence and sentiment, “Dude, that’s a good idea.” Kevin Smith, on his podcast last year, brought up an apartment listing he’d come across on Twitter, offering free lodging to a person as long as that person was willing to don a walrus costume for up to two hours a day and act like a walrus while suited up. Fucked up? Yes. Horror movie fodder? You bet. In the right hands with Kevin Smith? You would have thought so based on Red State, which I found a terrifying and tight, impeccably wound movie. 

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But it seems with Tusk that he rushed to give us a crazy, walrus-obsessed villain, and then in the middle, had a bunch of “Dude, that’s a good idea” moments that he tossed in there for fun (some of which are incredibly fun but don’t fit together) and to take up the empty, non-walrus-filled space. The apparent haste with which Tusk was sewn together doesn’t help its case. 

Because…

Dude, it’s a good idea to make a genuinely spine-twistingly creepy horror movie about a crazy man who mutilates people in order to make them into walruses because of some sick obsession.

Dude, it’s a good idea to make the victim a mustachioed and douchified Justin Long and have the premise be that he’s an asshole host of a podcast (called the Not See Party…say it fast, and then shake your head) who is looking for a weirdo to interview, AKA he’s asking for it. 

Dude, it’s a good idea to make a ridiculous, B-movie, Basket Case slash Bad Milo level walrus suit out of human skin.

Dude, it’s a good idea to put Haley Joel Osment in your project. Period.

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Dude, it’s a good idea to have a sweet extended cameo by Johnny Depp, Frenchified (I realized how much that sounds like “french fry” and it made me smile) with a Nicole-Kidman-in-The-Hours level nose prosthetic, as an eccentric, off-the-wall, kind of slapstick homicide detective.

Dude, it’s a good idea to set your movie in Canada and make a bunch of jokes aboot Canadians.

Dude, it’s a good idea to set your movie in a stately, creepy mansion in the middle of the Canadian woods. 

Dude, it’s a good idea to make a complex, character-driven movie in which the people who are searching for their lost friend, the victim, have deep, dark secrets of their own.

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But all of these pieces together…they don’t intertwine well, and they’re not meaty enough on their own. They are all enjoyable, but the movie takes a hard left turn into straight comedy about halfway in, with the appearance of Captain Jack Sparrow, and doesn’t look back. Perhaps I was just duped by the trailer, which used clips basically only from that first, truly unsettling half of the movie, but I don’t necessarily think that’s what Kevin Smith had in mind. 

So I guess my conclusion would be #WalrusMeh?

Grade: B-

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