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. 

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.

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.

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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