Tusk
Kevin Smith is a name most recognized and related to his debut and hit film "Clerks". The wordy, tongue in cheek and otherwise dark comedy film was praised for showcasing a day in the life of an average, lower middle-class man while keeping the laughs coming. Anyone working in retail could easily relate to both characters Dante and Randal. Dante is what we make ourselves out to be while dealing with customers; friendly, apologetic, and not trying to start any trouble. However, Randal was what we wanted to be, which was emotionally apathetic and uncaring, willing to call customers out on their ignorance and bullshit all day long. It was Smith's smart writing and character creation that drew so many to "Clerks" in the first place, and it was that staple that allowed many more of his films to be enjoyed and beloved, including "Dogma", "Chasing Amy", and "Zack and Miri Make a Porno". This is exactly why when I finished watching Smith's horror comedy "Tusk", I found myself not only extremely disappointed with the director, but also asking where all his creative genius went. 

"Tusk" follows the story of Wallace (Justin Long) as he searches for the next big story on his podcast The Not-See Party. While in Canada and unfortunately finding his original interviewee dead from suicide, Wallace finds the story of one Howard Howe (Michael Parks) stapled to a bathroom wall. He goes to meet Howe, and upon doing so, he is drugged, maimed, and slowly surgically mutilated into what would become a human walrus. Essentially, this is pretty much Smith's version of "The Human Centipede", except I can't say which is better as both are pretty terrible films. 

The immediate problem with the films comes with the film's lead character Wallace Bryton. He is a completely alienated shit bag who no one would be rooting for throughout the entire film. His entire podcast is dedicated to visceral and vicious assaults on random people whose videos they find on the entire. He is pretty much an entire community dedicated to trolling in one person's body. Not only that, but he cheats on his girlfriend Ally Leon, played by Genesis Rodriguez. Consider this man a class-A asshole. Pretty much, as I watched this dude get tortured and transformed into no more than a beast, I had no reason to want him to not get destroyed, and did not sympathize with his character. I'm not saying that Long did a bad job playing his part, as he did extremely well for playing an asshole, but his character was altogether unlikable. 

His tormentor, however, was played very well for what he was by Michael Parks. As the mysterious yet intriguing Howard Howe, Parks did a great job at keeping scenes interesting as he talked of his character's past. Parks has always shown capability and lovely dialogue sequences in films such as "Kill Bill", so seeing him take on such a big role in a film made me smile. It seems to me as if the man took influence from both Dieter Laser's Dr. Josef Heiter from "The Human Centipede" and Ted Levine's Buffalo Bill from "Silence of the Lambs" and mashed them into one character. But, even then, given the fact that toward the end of the film his character also dresses up as a walrus and has a fight to the death with Long's human walrus, well, let's just say his character deteriorated over the course of the film. 

Genesis Rodriguez as Ally Leon, Wallace's girlfriend, was probably the best character on screen. Rodriguez crafted a sympathetic and sad woman who knows she's being cheated on. I've seen this case a million times before; one partner in a relationship knows they're partner is being unfaithful, but they just cannot bring themselves to leave their other half out of love. The interesting bit about her character is that she is also having an affair with Wallace's podcast partner, Teddy Craft  (Haley Joel Osment). Now, while this arc is explored in the film, it never really comes to fruition, and never really sees a conclusive end. Why it was included, I don't know. It was poor writing, I suppose, and poor story direction that could have been cut.

Other characters that appear in the film include Johnny Depp as Guy LaPointe, Harley Morenstein as a Border Agent, and both Depp's and Smith's daughters Lily-Rose Depp and Harley Quinn Smith as minor clerks in the film. While Johnny Depp did a decent job with acting, his character's non-stop rambling and huge background story about how he thinks he met Howard Howe in the past on his hunt for this serial killer was long drawn out and took us away from the action. However, Morenstein in his brief appearance brought his sarcasm and humor to the screen generously, and both daughters of Smith and Depp did well together on screen; their snarky teenage attitude was fit perfect for their small roles. 

Now, one last thing that I would like to mention that the film absolutely failed at was the horror comedy part. Just how I complained about "The Visit"'s failure to find ground between horror and comedy, "Tusk" does not succeed in much the same manner. The horror found in the film is little more than gross out gags as Long's Wallace is cut and sliced and put into a human walrus suit without any real scares appearing on screen. The comedy bit actually comes more or less from Morenstein's, Harley-Quinn's, and Lily-Rose's characters. These small characters bring out comic relief in the film at times when everything is extremely tense. However, the rest of the cast find themselves ground in an all too serious grit. I don't think this has anything to do with how they acted, but how the story was written. Poor writing made the film both fail at being either scary or funny. 

"Tusk" is simply another gross-out film in the vein of "The Human Centipede" with plagued writing that leaves unfulfilled story arcs and extended dialogue sequences that paused the action when it should have pushed forward.
2
Brutal Resonance

Tusk

3.5
"Terrible"
Genre: Horror, Comedy
Director: Kevin Smith
Writer: Kevin Smith
Star actors: Michael Parks, Justin Long, Haley Joel Osment, Genesis Rodriguez
Kevin Smith is a name most recognized and related to his debut and hit film "Clerks". The wordy, tongue in cheek and otherwise dark comedy film was praised for showcasing a day in the life of an average, lower middle-class man while keeping the laughs coming. Anyone working in retail could easily relate to both characters Dante and Randal. Dante is what we make ourselves out to be while dealing with customers; friendly, apologetic, and not trying to start any trouble. However, Randal was what we wanted to be, which was emotionally apathetic and uncaring, willing to call customers out on their ignorance and bullshit all day long. It was Smith's smart writing and character creation that drew so many to "Clerks" in the first place, and it was that staple that allowed many more of his films to be enjoyed and beloved, including "Dogma", "Chasing Amy", and "Zack and Miri Make a Porno". This is exactly why when I finished watching Smith's horror comedy "Tusk", I found myself not only extremely disappointed with the director, but also asking where all his creative genius went. 

"Tusk" follows the story of Wallace (Justin Long) as he searches for the next big story on his podcast The Not-See Party. While in Canada and unfortunately finding his original interviewee dead from suicide, Wallace finds the story of one Howard Howe (Michael Parks) stapled to a bathroom wall. He goes to meet Howe, and upon doing so, he is drugged, maimed, and slowly surgically mutilated into what would become a human walrus. Essentially, this is pretty much Smith's version of "The Human Centipede", except I can't say which is better as both are pretty terrible films. 

The immediate problem with the films comes with the film's lead character Wallace Bryton. He is a completely alienated shit bag who no one would be rooting for throughout the entire film. His entire podcast is dedicated to visceral and vicious assaults on random people whose videos they find on the entire. He is pretty much an entire community dedicated to trolling in one person's body. Not only that, but he cheats on his girlfriend Ally Leon, played by Genesis Rodriguez. Consider this man a class-A asshole. Pretty much, as I watched this dude get tortured and transformed into no more than a beast, I had no reason to want him to not get destroyed, and did not sympathize with his character. I'm not saying that Long did a bad job playing his part, as he did extremely well for playing an asshole, but his character was altogether unlikable. 

His tormentor, however, was played very well for what he was by Michael Parks. As the mysterious yet intriguing Howard Howe, Parks did a great job at keeping scenes interesting as he talked of his character's past. Parks has always shown capability and lovely dialogue sequences in films such as "Kill Bill", so seeing him take on such a big role in a film made me smile. It seems to me as if the man took influence from both Dieter Laser's Dr. Josef Heiter from "The Human Centipede" and Ted Levine's Buffalo Bill from "Silence of the Lambs" and mashed them into one character. But, even then, given the fact that toward the end of the film his character also dresses up as a walrus and has a fight to the death with Long's human walrus, well, let's just say his character deteriorated over the course of the film. 

Genesis Rodriguez as Ally Leon, Wallace's girlfriend, was probably the best character on screen. Rodriguez crafted a sympathetic and sad woman who knows she's being cheated on. I've seen this case a million times before; one partner in a relationship knows they're partner is being unfaithful, but they just cannot bring themselves to leave their other half out of love. The interesting bit about her character is that she is also having an affair with Wallace's podcast partner, Teddy Craft  (Haley Joel Osment). Now, while this arc is explored in the film, it never really comes to fruition, and never really sees a conclusive end. Why it was included, I don't know. It was poor writing, I suppose, and poor story direction that could have been cut.

Other characters that appear in the film include Johnny Depp as Guy LaPointe, Harley Morenstein as a Border Agent, and both Depp's and Smith's daughters Lily-Rose Depp and Harley Quinn Smith as minor clerks in the film. While Johnny Depp did a decent job with acting, his character's non-stop rambling and huge background story about how he thinks he met Howard Howe in the past on his hunt for this serial killer was long drawn out and took us away from the action. However, Morenstein in his brief appearance brought his sarcasm and humor to the screen generously, and both daughters of Smith and Depp did well together on screen; their snarky teenage attitude was fit perfect for their small roles. 

Now, one last thing that I would like to mention that the film absolutely failed at was the horror comedy part. Just how I complained about "The Visit"'s failure to find ground between horror and comedy, "Tusk" does not succeed in much the same manner. The horror found in the film is little more than gross out gags as Long's Wallace is cut and sliced and put into a human walrus suit without any real scares appearing on screen. The comedy bit actually comes more or less from Morenstein's, Harley-Quinn's, and Lily-Rose's characters. These small characters bring out comic relief in the film at times when everything is extremely tense. However, the rest of the cast find themselves ground in an all too serious grit. I don't think this has anything to do with how they acted, but how the story was written. Poor writing made the film both fail at being either scary or funny. 

"Tusk" is simply another gross-out film in the vein of "The Human Centipede" with plagued writing that leaves unfulfilled story arcs and extended dialogue sequences that paused the action when it should have pushed forward.
Nov 02 2015

Steven Gullotta

info@brutalresonance.com
I've been writing for Brutal Resonance since November of 2012 and now serve as the editor-in-chief. I love the dark electronic underground and usually have too much to listen to at once but I love it. I am also an editor at Aggressive Deprivation, a digital/physical magazine since March of 2016. I support the scene as much as I can from my humble laptop.

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