TUSK – Movie Review


Kevin Smith has brought us cult-classics like Red State, Clerks, and Dogma. After years of threatening retirement, he brings us something ingenious and totally out of left field. Diving into a genre he’s only recently explored, Smith delivers the revolting, creepy, and yet oddly hilarious Tusk.

Tusk began in an episode of the director’s podcast, brought on by a strange Gumtree ad (that later proved to be fake) in which a Brighton man was looking for a roommate willing to spend two hours sewn into a walrus suit every day in lieu of paying rent. That ad combined with Fleetwood Mac’s song ‘Tusk’ got Smith’s wheels spinning. Now, a year later, we have Justin Long playing that schmuck who answers a similar advertisement.

Wallace (Justin Long) is one half of a podcast duo, opposite his best friend Teddy (Haley Joel Osment). The pair have become quite popular by exploiting and getting laughs at others expense. After an unfortunate and “hilarious” video of a young man goes viral, Wallace decides to travel to the kid’s home in Canada for an interview for the podcast. Things don’t go as planned, so Wallace begins scrambling for something else to exploit. He happens to find an interesting ad by a man named Howard Howe.


Howard Howe (Michael Parks) is an eccentric, ancient mariner with tall but true stories to tell. This is just what Wallace is looking for. He drives to a mansion just far enough off the beaten path to be ominously secluded, where Howard awaits him like a spider does a fly. Howard begins spinning his tales, and before you can say “don’t drink that”, Wallace is doped and firmly in Howard’s grasp. When Wallace awakes, he’s short a limb – but that’s not the worst of what’s in store for him. Now begins his journey from man to walrus.

What follows from this point is grisly, terrifying, and at times hard to watch. However, very little gore is actually seen; a masterful use of implication lets your mind fill in the gory details. Normally, torture and gore aren’t my idea of a scary movie, but the saturation of suspense, creepiness, and shocking escalation keeps it relevant. As a horror movie alone, Tusk would be a few steps above The Human Centipede. Smith, however, never makes a movie that fits into just one box.

What makes Tusk enjoyable is the humor and approach to the horror aspect of this comedy-horror flick. Like many of Smith’s best films, Tusk is witty and self-deprecating without being self-serving. It makes fun of the horror while simultaneously chilling you, and never takes itself too seriously. This gives Tusk an edge that you seldom see but always crave in horror films.


This may be a Kevin Smith movie, but the scenes belong to the cast. Michael Parks plays a character unlike any I’ve seen him do, and he’s positively captivating. Johnny Depp is nearly unrecognizable as a French-Canadian sleuth, and injects fresh comedy just when it’s needed. Justin Long is cast into what seems to be just another hipster-with-a-sh*t-eating-grin roll, but shows he has some chops as the horrors progress and he begins loosing the faculties to portray emotion, thanks to going “full walrus” as Tusk likes to say.

There were only a few things that brought Tusk down. At times, the conversational humor and monologues ran on just a little too long, shaking the audience enough from their suspension of reality to check the time. I also understand that this film had a small budget, but many of the horror props looked like they were slapped together in an episode of Face Off. The worst offense was that the last third of Tusk felt rushed and unfocused compared to the rest of the film.

Tusk isn’t afraid to revel in what makes it both disgusting and hilarious, putting its audience through the ringer and making them laugh while doing it. My prediction is that it will be vastly overlooked and massively misunderstood. Kevin Smith has come a long way in his approach to filmography, and it shows. This is by far his best work yet, as strange and nauseating as it is, showcasing his love for movie making.

3.5 stars

by Rachael Edwards-Hite

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