I went into Tusk having never seen a Kevin Smith film, and after half an hour of this horror-comedy was assured I didn’t need to see another. Wallace, played by Justin Long, is a split-mustachioed jackass who runs a podcast with his best friend Teddy, played by Haley Joel Osment, heading to Canada for a story. His initial interview falls through, and he is forced to search elsewhere for an intriguing piece. Cue a creepy, hand-written note tacked above a bar’s urinal to lead Wallace to Howard Howe, an old man with Warby Parker glasses who has lots to say. Too much.
Howard offers Justin a tiny tea cup, though it is filled with enough drugged content to fill a spinning one at Disney– for twenty minutes Wallace sips and Howard speaks longingly about sea life and walruses before the roofie hits. Then, zero to sixty, Wallace is chopped up and constructed into a walrus. Wallace, walrus– hope you saw that coming.
Honestly, this film started so promisingly. The flashbacks from bright California to musky Canada were visually pleasing, and Howard’s home was so fleshed out (catch that pun?), I could smell the must of artifacts long still. Some shots were bad (second urinal scene), and the dialogue wasn’t anything spectacular (are all Canadian’s quick to quip?), but the tone was excitedly heavy, the pacing fascinating, the expectation of a serial killer terrifying. It also helped that in an empty theatre a stranger sat next to me, so yeah, I was doubly on edge. Once Wallace turned walrus, creatively deemed Mr. Tusk, though, the horror film with some comic elements turned full comedy. It was as if Smith saw how laughable the walrus suit actually looked and said, “Not as scary as I would’ve liked… Let’s throw in a drunk ex-cop with a strange accent and run with it.” By the end, we were laughing, one friend pointing at the screen and simply shouting, “No!”
“No” might be the most accurate review a person can give for Tusk.