“You know what movie I want to see? A movie about a crazy guy turning a jerk into a walrus!” Said no one ever… That is until fall of 2013 when director Kevin Smith read a very creepy ad for a man seeking a rent-free housemate in England. The catch? You must dress up like a walrus two hours out of the day, speaking only in walrus noises and eating fish and crab that is thrown to you. Yes folks, this is real… I want to think it was just a man having a laugh with the users of gumtree.com, but all I know is Kevin Smith saw the incredibly creepy potential for this film, created a hashtag to see if people were interested, and now we have Tusk.
Tusk is, if you haven’t figured out, a horror comedy about a jerky podcaster who meets the wrong man and is turned into a human walrus by a Canadian psychopath. Now there is a sentence I never thought I’d type. I thought all Canadians were nice, eh?
This is one of the few times when a movie might actually be weirder than you expect.
Surprisingly well acted, Tusk stars Michael Parks (Kill Bill) as Howard Howe, a storied old man who claims he once fell in love with a walrus he named Mr. Tusk. Seems normal so far… Enter Wallace Bryton, the jerky podcaster played by Justlin Long (Dodgeball), who interviews people on his show primarily to mock them. He has traveled up to Canada to interview “The Samurai Kid,” an R-rated version of the viral “Star Wars Kid.” When that doesn’t work out, he finds this interesting ad in a bar bathroom and decides to visit Mr. Howard Howe. As you may imagine, things don’t go well for Wallace. The fly has landed in the spider’s trap, and there is no escape. Wallace is soon turned into a walrus. Yup, Wallace the Walrus, very clever. The rest of the film involves Wallace’s girlfriend Genesis Rodriguez (Identity Thief) and podcast mate Haley Joel Osment (Sixth Sense) on a quest to save their friend. When these two realize they are out of their depth, they enlist the services of Guy Lapointe (Johnny Depp), an intelligent, offbeat, cartoony Canadian inspector. Together they track down Wallace, but are they too late to save him? Yes… in a matter of speaking. Sorry for ruining the surprise, but this is a spoiler review.
I’m not going to lie; the tension in the first half of this film drew me in. The snappy dialogue and emotion between the two main characters was both creepy and witty. Unfortunately, this wasn’t enough to get me through the second half when Wallace the Walrus went–and I quote–“full walrus” … You never go full walrus. The entire second half of this film was much more uncomfortable than it was scary. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt so uncomfortable and creeped out in a movie, and I’ve seen some crazy stuff.
I do credit Kevin Smith with making the movie he wanted to make. I enjoyed elements of this film. First, it was beautifully shot, at times almost Wes Anderson-esque. Second, the quick-witted, satirical black humor felt right at home in this offbeat horror film. Finally, the acting brought out the absolute terrible nature of the situation faced by poor Wallace. However, the overall ridiculousness of the movie eventually won out.
Tusk is often described as a “cuddlier version of the Human Centipede,” which is not a glowing recommendation. It would be hard to imagine people who are not fans of horror or Kevin Smith truly enjoying this film. From the bizarre plot line to the uncomfortable second half and unsatisfying ending, Tusk is not a movie for the masses. Seriously, try explaining the plot to someone without sounding like you yourself are crazy.
Perhaps the world just was not ready for Wallace the Walrus.
Tusk however, is a solid candidate for an enjoyable Bad Movie Night.