Tusk, 2014, USA
Director: Kevin Smith
Stars: Michael Parks, Justin Long & "Guy Lapointe
''Are you really mourning your humanity? I don't understand, who in the hell would want to be human?''
Tonight I got the chance to see a pre-screening of 'Tusk' (It opens October 9th in Australia) with a live Skype Q&A with the one and only Kevin Smith. I have been a huge fan for many years so It was a surreal experience to (virtually) be in the same room as him, or I should say, to be in a room that he was addressing. He spoke of various things, such as the brilliance of Michael Parks, the casting of Johnn...uh, I mean Guy Lapointe, but most importantly he talked about what 'Tusk' meant to him. He noted how his run as mainstream filmmaker had not worked out, and he also spoke of his inspiration for this film being similar to his inspiration for 'Clerks' in 1994, where he thought " Why won't somebody make a movie with characters like my friends, talking about Star Wars and shit?" with 'Tusk' it was ''Why won't somebody make this f*cking Walrus movie" The answer to both questions was Smith himself.
'Tusk' is the clearly the work of a filmmaker who (and as Mr. Guy Lapointe says "pardon the French") no longer gives a f*ck. This man has given up on the his haters who are just going to hate whatever he does regardless, as well as the critics who will probably do the same, in doing so he has become completely liberated of the flaws that hindered his works like 'Cop Out' and 'Jersey Girl'. 'Tusk' is a film that is choked full of things a conservative filmmaker would dare think of, I mean it is about a guy turning another guy into a Walrus!
'Tusk' is not as much as a horror film as I was expecting. Sure the actual premise itself is absolutely horrifying, but Smith is being more satirical and comedic than I assumed he was going to be, which seems strange to say about Smith. The film retains it's comedic edge throughout most of the duration, even during the most horrific moments. That's not to take anything from the horror aspect to 'Tusk', there is plenty to be horrified about and I would imagine most audience members will be squirming in their seat during the last half of the film. The Walrus effects are pretty incredible, and a big kudos to Justin Long for getting in that thing, he's a brave man.
Writing dialogue has always been Smith's strong suit, and 'Tusk' proves that it is still indeed his strong suit. There are several excellent monologues throughout the film, that vary from very funny to very sad to very creepy. Michael Parks obviously elevates every piece of dialogue he delivers, but I was surprised by how good the scene where Genesis Rodriguez gives that really emotional speech came off, both acting and writing wise.
During the Q&A, Smith mentioned that, in his opinion, the real magic of the movies comes from simply putting the camera on an actor and seeing them deliver lines like they like they are naturally coming to the characters, it's evident in 'Tusk' that this is what Smith loves and he really lets the actors flourish. Everyone who has seen the man act knows this but I feel the need to say it again, Michael Parks is an acting god! ''The acting Yoda'' as Smith refers to him, gives another tremendous performance that is equal parts horrifying and hilarious, and compelling in every way. A performance that will chill you to the bone, even if you don't like the film, you have to admire Parks. Justin Long is an actor I have never really been a big fan of, but I may have to change my opinion after seeing him in this film. What an incredibly brave and ballsy performance this is, not only does Long get in the Walrus suit, but he really makes you feel sadness for the character when it happens, awesome stuff from him! As I alluded to before, Genesis Rodriguez is very impressive, especially her emotional monologue. Haley Joel Osment is fine but doesn't have a lot to do. Guy Lapointe is wonderfully, I can't believe I haven't seen him in a movie before. He does look familiar though, wait was that Robert De Niro?
'Tusk' is a divisive film if there ever was one, it is a film about a man who abducts and turns another man into a WALRUS after all, is obviously not going to appeal to most, but honestly I really dug it. 'Tusk' is funny, different, shocking and surreal, and I enjoyed every second of it. Walrus Yes, indeed!