Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Tusk (2014) Layla's review

This quick-fire film from Kevin Smith, inspired by a joke Gumtree ad, was churned out pretty quickly after being voted to be made by the audience of Smith' podcast SModcast. You'd expect a film that was so swiftly made to maybe lack some of the subtleties that a long gestation period can give you, and for the most part, you'd be wrong. Drawing strongly from Smith's own podcast, the "Not-See Party", hosted by Wallace (Justin Long) and Teddy (Haley Joel Osment), enjoy mocking people in their shows. As Teddy refuses to fly, Wallace travels to report back the hilarious stories he encounters. This time he travels to Canada to follow up on a more horrific version of the Star Wars Kid, but that kid has unfortunately committed suicide. Stuck for a story, Wallace happens to find a leaflet pinned up in a urinal, where an elderly man offers his stories in exchange for a free bed.

So far, the film draws on the podcast and youtube culture, and Wallace gets excited at the prospect of stories from this old man. Cue a fantastically creepy, dark and intriguing house, where every object tells a tale. Long is brilliantly scathing as Wallace, but Micheal Parks, as Howard Hoe, is the real star of this film. You could listen to him talk for hours. He talks about about the war, Hemingway, and after Wallace picks up a 2ft long penis bone, recounts the tale of the happiest time of his life, when he was stranded with a walrus he nicknamed Mr Tusk.

If you hadn't of guessed it, Howard is intent on turning Wallace into Mr Tusk. This is where the Gumtree ad comes into play, but obviously a lot darker. Many people have compared this film to Human Centipede (which I haven't seen), but instead of being gross, the horror is more disturbing and surreal. This is a dark comedy. The walrus "suit" is in fact a mangled body fabricated out of several victims skins; it may look silly, but it's quite a terrifying prospect. As Teddy and Wallace's girlfriend Ally (Génesis Rodríguez) travel to Canada to look for him, the film takes a drastically wrong move.

An ex-policeman from Quebec is called in to help with the case, a man called Guy Lapointe, credited as being played by a certain Guy Lapointe. We think. With a French accent that's on par with Inspector Clouseau, and rhetoric that rambles on for too long, Lapointe's speech brings the film to a grounding halt. And its not until about half way through that scene that you realise your watching Johnny Depp, Johnny Depp!, ruin a film right in front of your eyes. His character is so out of place, it turns this dark comedy into screwball, and trashes what little suspense we had left.

While Depp's mockery of a character was an unwelcome edition to this film, I still enjoyed the premise, and the first half, as well as the last minutes, were spot on. While not the scariest film, Tusk is a funny body horror with some intriguing characters as well as a deliciously unsettling premise. The first of Smith's True North trilogy, I'm looking forward to the next films, but can Depp calm it down a little please?



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