Tusk (2014) – Film Review

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Plot

At a glance, the plot seems absolutely ridiculous. The trailers do not do this movie justice.

I went into watching this film expecting a cheesy monster film, what I got was a body horror film akin to the likes of Human Centipede.

A popular podcaster by the name of Wallace Bryton travels to Canada to get content for his show. The content in question is an interview with an individual named the Kill Bill kid who severs his leg with a katana. Upon arriving in Canada, Wallace discovers that the Kill Bill kid actually committed suicide. Upset that he traveled to Canada for nothing, Wallace becomes desperate to find somebody to interview and finds himself at the mansion of one Howard Howe, a retired and adventured sailor. Howard shares a number of stories with Wallace, most notably the story of a walrus Howard named Mr. Tusk. Eventually, Wallace passes out after drinking a cup of drugged tea. What ensues is the slow, painful reforming of Wallace’s body into that of a walrus.

Tusk has a number of fantastic elements from all spectrums of the horror genre and blends it all together to form a truly one-of-a-kind, horrifying tale of body horror.

Howard Howe is one of the most terrifying mad-scientist-esque characters in recent memory and the various, often times disturbing, stories make him one of the most developed horror movie villains I have ever seen.

All in all, the story is extremely disturbing and fantastic.

Design

The Howe mansion is filled with character. The viewer is given the impression that every object found throughout Howard’s estate has some fantastic story. I also enjoy the overall color of the mansion, imposing and mysterious. Later on, in the movie, we find ourselves in an atrium of sorts, one that is similar to one found at a walrus exhibit at a zoo. I like how seedy and unsettling this room is, it makes the scenes with Wallace’s twisted body that much more terrible.

Now I have to talk about the flesh walrus design as it is the center focus of the movie. My God. It’s genius. It’s anatomically impossible, but this is a movie and it tries its best to make sense. Wallace’s new body is as fascinating as it is excruciating to look at, essentially being made up of recycled flesh, crudely stitched together to keep Wallace’s body intact. Again, it is just so different and amazing.

Acting

Starting with the leading actor, Justin Long, who plays our unfortunate man-walrus hybrid; I believe he has a knack for acting in such strange roles as this one, this one perhaps being the most strange of all. He plays a good, hateable character in the beginning and plays an even better victim who is in unimaginable levels of pain, where his dialogue is primarily shrieking. Justin presents the pain his character is enduring very well and, had it not been for his performance, the design of the flesh walrus would have fallen flat.

Michael Parks plays a very fantastic lunatic, almost too good as if he’s been playing this character his entire life. It just comes so naturally to him and that, by itself, is frightening. My favorite moment of this movie is when Howard Howe dons a flesh walrus suit of his own and proceeds to fight with Wallace. It’s priceless.

Haley Joel Osment plays Wallace’s co-podcaster Teddy. Haley is better known as the son of Forrest Gump in, well, Forrest Gump. He doesn’t hold a really strong spot in this movie, he’s more like the supporting character to the supporting character.

Genesis Rodriguez plays Allison, Wallace’s girlfriend, and delivers a heart-wrenching performance each time she is on the screen, usually in flashbacks or to deliver the final line in the movie where she bids farewell to Wallace, knowing full well he is not able to live a normal, human life.

The acting gives this movie a sense of realism, while also being able to maintain that extremely obscure, one-of-a-kind experience.

Cinematography

The cinematography in Tusk gets the job done, without a doubt. While it’s not super artistic in many ways, it certainly knows how to capture the right angle of the fleshy Mr. Tusk. There are also a number of impressively revealing shots of the various scenes throughout the film, further driving home the characters of this movie. Director Kevin Smith really knows how to get the job done for a comedy body horror film like Tusk and, to be frankly honest, nobody will ever be able to make something so bizarre again.

The Verdict

I’m going to keep my verdict short and sweet with Tusk.

It’s a great movie through and through. It doesn’t pretend to be anything other than a messed up, gore-splattered good time and I would want nothing less for a film such as this. It’s simple, yet effective and I highly recommend it for fans of the more bizarre, cult films as this one defines that particular genre.

Yes, it most certainly is not for everybody, but for film buffs looking for something more in their horror movie, they should look no further.

Tusk is just a fantastic film. There’s not much more I can say on that.

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