Born out of an episode of Kevin Smith's Smodcast podcast, Tusk was a story inspired by a fake ad on Gumtree in which a man was looking for someone to come and spend time with him while acting like and being dressed up as a walrus. The ad would turn out to be a prank but a truly insane/genius horror movie idea was born, an idea you can hear in the episode of Smodcast entitled "The Walrus And The Carpenter".
The film, which was released a year ago today, was not a big hit at the box-office but it helped give birth to Smith's promising Canada-set horror comedy trilogy which will include the upcoming Yoga Hosers and Moose Jaws, along with the belated sequel to Mallrats around the same time. Plus the idea that some goofy joke conversation two friends one day have in a podcast can turn into a proper movie is inspiring. The film's cast would include Justin Long, Michael Parks, Haley Joel Osment, Genesis Rodriguez and a surprise appearance by Johnny Depp, whose portrayal of Canadian detective Guy Lapointe is worth the ticket of admission alone.
Tusk follows podcaster Wallace (Long) who travels to Canada to meet someone (viral sensation The Kill Bill Kid) to interview on his "Not See Party" podcast. Unfortunately, this plan quickly backfires and, after he finds a live-in walrus man ad in a bar bathroom, he goes to meet Howard Howe (Parks), a wheelchair-bound kook with one unbelievable story to tell, to say the least. The build-up to the main twist is genuinely unsettling despite some clever (and silly) in-jokes thrown in for lols. The good thing about all this is that Kevin Smith proves himself to be a worthy horror movie director here, as Tusk remains pretty messed-up throughout and stays with you long after you've watched it. Add to that a Michael Parks on top form delivering a typically brilliant, creepy-as-f*** performance and you've got yourself enough to give you nightmares for a week.
Unfortunately, the horror elements don't always merge with the jokes that well which gives the film a bit of a confusing tone only true Smodcast and View Askew fans will appreciate, hence the box-office results. Having said that, you've got some very amusing scenes in there as the Canadians portrayed and the genre contrasts within the story help give the film a Fargo-esque vibe. Lily-Rose Melody Depp (Depp's daughter) and Harley Quinn Smith (Smith's daughter) cameo as moody clerks and Johnny Depp's inspired Guy Lapointe (another classic Smodcast character) appears in a few scenes, all of which give him the chance to exercise a hilarious, if not wholly convincing Canadian twang. The good news is the film is funny, it's just a shame that detracts from the tension from time to time. The two sequels, which seem to be embracing their cartoonish nature even more, should manage that a little better.
All in all, it's good to have Smith back on good form delivering new, original, hard-to-forget work and giving podcasting another level altogether, not to mention giving fans one big present indeed. The uninitiated won't be sold by Tusk, which'll likely leave them dumbstruck but everyone else should have a good time with it.