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Monday, 17 September 2018

On Amazon Streaming: Tusk (2014)


Obnoxious American podcaster Wallace Bryton (New Girl's Justin Long) heads to Canada in pursuit on an interview with an Internet sensation. When that doesn't pan out, he looks around for something else to justify his journey... and learns of a mysterious ex-sailor Howard Howe (Twin Peaks' Michael Parks), who claims to be a raconteur par excellence.

Unfortunately for Wallace, there is more to Howard than meets the eye, and he soon finds himself in the grasp of a very disturbed man with a very twisted plan he is looking to execute.

Meanwhile, back in America, Wallace's podcasting partner, Teddy Craft (The Sixth Sense's Haley Joel Osment), and girlfriend Ally Leon (Genesis Rodriguez), get a garbled message from their friend and head North to try and rescue him - with the assistance of former Canadian police officer Guy Lapointe (a heavily made-up Johnny Depp).

Written and directed by Kevin Smith, Tusk is a very odd film. While it opens in familiar old school Smith territory with the foul-mouthed Wallace and Teddy doing their podcast schtick, it very rapidly spins out into increasingly disturbing body horror once Wallace is captured by Howe.

The very disturbed Howe is seeking to recreate a pivotal incident from his past, where he was shipwrecked and rescued by a walrus, but with the possibility of the event turning out differently.

As well as a very obvious nod to Tod Browning's Freaks, Smith flavours Tusk with elements of Quentin Tarantino and David Lynch, creating, at the end of the day, a most peculiar cocktail.

Flipping to and fro from the uncomfortable horror elements to the broad humour makes the film a quite uneven ride, yet, even though Smith himself admits it could have ended five minutes earlier, I was pleasantly surprised how well the story actually hangs together.

Pacing isn't an issue, as Tusk is a film that doesn't hang around before getting to the meat of its story, and the dialogue - as you'd expect from a Kevin Smith film - is heavy with pop culture banter.

It's also peppered with Easter Eggs from Smith's various podcasts, which shouldn't come as a great shock as the story grew out of one he recounted on a 2013 episode of the SModcast.

Perhaps this is why it feels, for intents and purposes, like a solid, Tales Of The Unexpected-style short story padded out to feature-length.

Tusk also features cameo appearances from the daughters of Smith and Depp - Harley Quinn Smith and Lily-Rose Depp (who bears an incredible resemblance to her mum, Vanessa Paradis) - as convenience store clerks (roles I believe they continue with 2016's Yoga Hosers, the second of Smith's Canada Trilogy, which is due to conclude with Moose Jaws).

4 comments:

  1. It's based on a true story too, sort of. There is a comedian here in Brighton who posted a Gumtree advert for rent-free lodging, as long as the applicant dressed as a walrus.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Knew it originated as a tongue-in-cheek Guntree ad, hadn't realised it was from Brighton though. Thanks for that nugget.

      Delete
  2. I'll check me this out! Cheers

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Honestly, not sure if you'd enjoy it. It's a mite peculiar.

      Delete

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