After watching RED STATE, I consider it an honor to be able to review Kevin Smith’s work. Sure, I’m a fan of his past comedic works, but RED STATE was the film that showed the world his diverse nature, and that he could do so much more than solicit laughs. TUSK is his latest venture into the darker side of humanity, and it is just as excellent as RED STATE. I think I like TUSK more, however, because it is true horror, a disturbing jaunt into dark places of the mind. And although it’s touted as a dark comedy in some aspects, the film is also a haunting piece that will burn itself into your mind like a branding iron.
If you are not familiar with TUSK, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Lionsgate:
From writer-director Kevin Smith comes this wickedly funny modern-day monster movie that will hold you in terror as it keeps you in stitches. A podcaster (Justin Long) looking for a juicy story is plunged into a bloodcurdling nightmare after he travels to the backwoods of Canada and meets an eccentric recluse (Michael Parks) with a lifetime of adventures—-and a disturbing fondness for walruses.
I have to confess I wasn’t sure what to expect from Kevin Smith in regard to horror. He obviously can do thrillers, which was the case with RED STATE…but full-blown horror? I was hoping for the best, but yet skittish as well. My concerns were unfounded, thankfully, and Smith delivers a powerhouse of a film with TUSK. Much like I had hoped, his evolution as a filmmaker just gets better and better.
TUSK is shot well and appears to have a high production value (Smith mentions in one of the featurettes his budget was around $3 million). The film looks great from an aesthetic standpoint, as Smith once again makes much out of little; it is truly impressive what he can accomplish with minimal funding.
The acting is excellent with screen legend Michael Parks headlining a stellar cast that includes Justin Long, Haley Joel Osment, and Genesis Rodriguez. Parks is always a joy to see onscreen, and I loved his performance in RED STATE as well. I’ve also liked Justin Long for quite a while now, since I saw him JEEPERS CREEPERS way back in 2001. I’m glad he returns to his horror roots every now and then.
The special effects in TUSK are great as well, with legendary FX guru Robert Kurtzman in charge of the gruesome walrus effects. Fans of Kurtzman’s work will recall seeing his creations in films like DEEPSTAR SIX, TREMORS, ARMY OF DARKNESS, and CABIN FEVER. He does not disappoint here. There’s plenty of wild imagery in this film and even some nice gore here and there.
The bizarreness of the plot is what should draw you to this film, however. It is truly a mind-snapping trip into surrealistic horror. I loved every minute of it, although I have to admit the film made me cringe in a couple of places. But that’s what horror is supposed to do, right?
TUSK is a huge win for me, and I suggest giving it a look. But brace yourself before watching this film; it’s probably not what you’re expecting. The movie hits store shelves tomorrow, so make a note.