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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Friday, April 10, 2015

Movie Review - Tusk

Tusk (2014)
Starring Michael Parks, Justin Long, Genesis Rodriguez, Haley Joel Osment, and Johnny Depp
Directed by Kevin Smith
***This film is currently streaming on Amazon Prime***

While I've never seen The Human Centipede, I have to imagine that Kevin Smith saw that infamous horror film and figured he could do better.  With Tusk, he attempts the horror-comedy genre after a pretty successful attempt at straight horror with 2011's Red State.  Here, successful L.A.-based podcaster Wallace Bryton (Justin Long) travels to Manitoba, Canada, to interview a YouTube sensation for his show.  Upon arrival, his interviewee has died, leading Wallace to a bar to drown his sorrows where he comes across an ad seemingly written by an old man who has spent his years on the sea with stories to tell searching for someone to rent a room at his house.  Desperate to not return home with nothing, Wallace decides to head two hours away and interview the seafarer.

Upon arrival, Howard Howe (Michael Parks) seems like a hoot of an old man with stories to tell about his time in WWII fighting alongside Ernest Hemingway or the time his ship was all but destroyed leading him to swim to a little spit of land with only a walrus as his companion.  Wallace is certainly intrigued by Howard's stories and the old man confined to a wheelchair seems harmless enough.  However, as Wallace drinks down some tea, he soon discovers that his beverage has been spiked.  When he awakens, Wallace realizes that Howard's time spent with that walrus may have formed a rather disturbing bond for which Howard will stop at nothing to have again.

Michael Parks who was so good in Red State doesn't quite match his performance in his last Smith film, but he certainly gives a valiant effort.  His role here doesn't have nearly the depth of the crazed preacher he inhabited so well before, but Parks can certainly play scary.  Justin Long is playing a bit of a jerk here, but once horrible things start happening to him, his fear is palpable.  The surprise in Tusk is Genesis Rodriguez as Wallace's girlfriend who actually has a few emotional scenes that ring quite true amidst the insanity that is going on around her.  Also, it's nice to see Haley Joel Osment coming back into the movie fray again.

Tusk isn't particularly good filmmaking -- its a bit too wry and self-deprecating for its own good -- but I must admit that I was never bored and I found the whole thing oddly intriguing.  Obviously, writer-director Kevin Smith was going for the absurd and in the film's final act things do begin to shift a little too over the top, but the build-up to that point does surprisingly contain a nice amount of tension.  Still, the tonal imbalances hurt this one a bit as it never quite finds its footing.

The RyMickey Rating:  C

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