Plot: What’s it about?
Last year Kevin Smith decided to make a low budget film based on an idea that he came up with on an episode of his extremely popular podcast. The premise of the episode involved a strange advertisement online. The gist of the advertisement was that a man in Canada had offered free room and board for somebody to perform a very strange activity for two hours a day. I don’t want to give anything away but the activity involved behaving like a walrus. (Luckily, this advertisement did turn out to be a hoax.) The reason I mentioned it is that from that line right there you should have a pretty good sense of whether or not this film is right for you. Look, if you are looking for a very particular kind of crazy horror flick, this may be for you. Chances are after reading that line you may want to skip it, and I don’t blame you. If you are still intrigued then read on, as I plan to not spoil anything other than what I mentioned.
This is going to be an extremely divisive film. First off, to enjoy this film you probably already like Kevin Smith as a writer and director. Personally, I thought his best film was Chasing Amy and after that I have enjoyed his movies while not outright loving them. That said, I would consider myself a fan of his work for the most part. If you are a fan of Kevin Smith you may have seen a little film called Red State. It was a dark little indie film about a group of kids that get abducted for their sins by a militant right wing Christian organization. I actually really enjoyed that movie and thought it was particularly interesting for a guy whose humor is admittedly a bit low brow. If you did not like Red State than I think you will also not care for Tusk. Now, if you did like Red State and are willing to let Kevin Smith go even further off the deep end, than maybe Tusk is for you.
Justin Long stars as a raunchy podcaster who makes a living off of making fun of people on the Internet for accidentally hurting themselves or making fools of themselves. An opportunity arises to go to Canada to interview the Kill Bill kid, some nimrod who has accidentally injured himself on camera. His girlfriend Ally (Genesis Rodriguez) begs him to stay or to take her with him. He explains that his partner Teddy (Haley Joel Osment) doesn’t appreciate when he brings her with him for his interviews. So, he heads to Minatoba, Canada by himself to interview the kid. When things do not go as planned he is desperate for somebody to interview. Luckily, he finds a letter in a bathroom explaining that an old man secluded to a wheelchair is looking for a companion to share his experiences with in exchange for room and board. Seeing an opportunity for a story, he heads to the man’s house. From there, madness ensues.
Tusk is a very strange film. As dark comedy the film works pretty well. It is sort of like watching a very well written film that is stupid as hell. The dialogue is for the most part exemplary and the acting is very good. That said it is a thriller that is much more laughable than scary. Some of the comedy in the film falls a bit flat. The film is pretty rough around the edges, and given the subject matter I think it makes sense.
Where they strike gold in the film is in casting. Justin Long does an admirable job, but Michael Parks absolutely kills it. Parks is an excellent actor, and his skills are on terrific display here. This movie is a strange one. It is so stupid and batshit crazy. That doesn’t mean it isn’t enjoyable. I would HIGHLY recommend you rent this before you purchase it. If it did not sound like your type of thing when I was describing it, I can assure you that it is not your type of thing. That said, I just watched it a second time and I found myself laughing more and liking it better than the first time.
Video: How’s it look?
Lions Gate did an excellent job in porting over the film. Colors and detail are sharp and defined. I had no issues whatsoever with this transfer. The film was shot in seventeen days on a three million dollar budget, and the results are pretty impressive. The locations used are interesting and everything seemed to fit the bill. Fans of the film will be pleased. I did not notice any compression issues whatsoever.
Audio: How’s it sound?
The original master audio is presented in DTS-HD 5.1 surround. The movie is not particularly bombastic but the LFE channels are put to good effect in a few instances. This is mainly a dialogue driven affair and the audio reflects that. The track is crisp and dialogue is not ever lost in the sound field. The music in the film is quite well done, and I was extremely pumped to hear Fleetwood Mac’s “Tusk” blare out of my speakers.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Kevin Smith. Smith is incredibly proud of this film. He spends most of the time praising the performance of his actors. The track is entertaining and covers a lot of the ground seen in the other features. This is a pretty enjoyable track, albeit a bit superfluous after you watch the 20 Years To Tusk feature.
- 20 Years to Tusk (1080p; 24:27) Kevin Smith gives a twenty four minute speech about directing for the last twenty years and the process of getting Tusk made. I enjoyed this feature. In many ways, I enjoyed the process behind making Tusk more than the final product.
- The Making of Tusk is comprised of separate featurettes. These are broken down into tiny bite sized clips. I enjoyed all of the material, but each small feature has the same intro and outro. These could have easily been edited together into one solid piece of entertainment. I couldn’t help but feel a bit annoyed that they didn’t do that. The material was solid, the presentation…not so much.
- Main Story (1080p; 2:17)
Pre-Production (1080p; 2:57);
Director Down (1080p; 2:03)
Filming: Take 1 (1080p; 5:28);
Filming: Take 2 (1080p; 2:49);
Filming: Take 3 (1080p; 3:30);
Filming: Take 4 (1080p; 3:02);
Filming: Take 5 (1080p; 4:19);
Filming: Take 6 (1080p; 2:18).
Production Design (1080p; 3:02)
From Pod to Screen (1080p; 4:25)
Flying with Mewes (1080p; 3:52)
Meet the Crew (1080p; 4:51)
Wallace the Walrus (1080p; 6:35)
- Halifax Explosion (1080p; 6:57)
Duplessis Orphan (1080p; 5:22) Both of these deleted scenes were animated and pretty cool. I really liked these.
The Bottom Line
The question of “What the hell did I just watch?” is the best way to encapsulate the feeling that Tusk gave me. I did not love it. I did not hate it. I woke up thinking about how I would describe it to somebody else. This was my best attempt at that. If a horror/comedy with a bizarre/idiotic difference is up your alley, then this is the movie for you. If anything I mentioned was not your cup of tea, than consider yourself warned. For fans of the film, the supplementary features are decent but the disk features reference quality video and audio. Recommended with caveats. I will admit that the movie is growing on me.