I’m not typically the type to keep up with movies in terms of new releases—I’m more likely to watch a film online than I am to go to a theater, especially with the untimely demise of the dollar theater in my town. However, this little gem of a flick has got me feeling not only on the up and up, but actually excited for a theater release for the first time in what feels like forever.
Trigger warning for needles in the below video.
I’m all for giving props where they’re due; if not for Rooster Teeth’s Screen Play podcast (which is fantastic, especially if you’re a film/television buff) I would have never heard of this until Tumblr gif-ed it. Given that it’s been out for a couple days now, I’m a little surprised that it hasn’t. I’ll take my blessings where I can get them. Getting spoiled would have been a shame, too, since Tusk seems like the type of movie that needs to be experienced with little to no prior information. So, in an effort to not be a huge hypocrite on this point, I’m going to try and stay vague.
Director Kevin Smith (of Chasing Amy and Dogma fame) takes the audience in to the life of a brazen podcaster, Wallace Bryton, who gets his kicks by basically being a total dick on the internet. After traveling to Canada to interview someone (or make fun of them, as the case may be) his plans fall through and Bryton is left looking for anything to make the trip worthwhile. After finding a flyer in a bar restroom for free housing with a side of a promise of interesting stories—a pretty enticing offer—Bryton heads out and meets Howard Howe, an enigmatic, enthusiastic seaman. However, as films tend to go, things are not what they seem, and soon enough Bryton is incapacitated and trapped by Howe. Stranger still, Howe seems obsessed with turning Bryton into a walrus.
This is the most creative premise I’ve heard for a horror movie in a long time. Have you heard of torture by walrus-ing before? I think not. With Kevin Smith’s darker sense of humor, I have no doubt that he can pull it off, too. A far departure from found-footage, demon possession horror flicks that have been dominating the film screens, Tusk appears to be taking a more psychological stab at its horror; the relationship between animal and man, and what separates the two. Something more to chew on than “hey guys, let’s maybe not mess with the Ouija board.” For those fans of the classics, I’m sure you haven’t missed the Misery vibes coming off of this film either. However, while Tusk doesn’t shy away from the ridiculous, neither does it shy away from the gore. Even in the trailer, you can immediately get the sense that Smith has no qualms about showing Bryton’s entire bloody transformation from man to walrus. The one thing that’s bugging me, though, is the whole aspect of pretending to need a wheelchair on Howe’s end. Sure, it’s to make Howe seem less threatening and capable, but that in and of itself is pretty damned ableist.
Although reviews on Tusk’s have been widely varied—receiving a 36% from Rotten Tomatoes and an 8/10 on IGN—I feel that reception is highly based on what you’re expecting going in. If you’re going to criticize this as a super serious film, you’re going to have a bad time. But, Tusk is one of those films that’s going to have a cult following, just like Smith’s other films, of this I have no doubt. Tusk is out in theaters now, and if this is your kind of thing, I highly encourage you to give it some love.