Tusk follows podcaster of all things weird, Wallace (Justin Long) as he travels to Canada in pursuit of a viral video star only to end up in the mansion of a mysterious elderly man, Howard Howe (Michael Parks). He soon learns he may become the very story he was chasing as things take a turn for the gruesomely insane.
This horror/comedy mash up from Kevin Smith was the start of his Canadian horror trilogy that he followed with Yoga Hosers, which I already reviewed way back when. Where that one was more objectively humorous with a weird horror undercurrent this is more like a black comedy in it’s sheer ridiculousness. However, the horror element in this is actually pretty good. And it’s all thanks to Michael Parks. He is the definition of insanity and the contrast he reaches in this one character is kind of incredible to watch. There’s one scene where his character, Howard Howe is screaming at the shrieking Wallace at the dinner table and I’m not going to lie, it’s one of the scariest moments I’ve ever seen. He escalates from monologue-delivering savant to a literal raving madman in a matter of moment and switches back and forth constantly. He takes a truly, truly insane idea for a film and uses it to steal the show.
The creature of this creature feature is…well it’s gross but special effects-wise it’s not that bad. It looks a little plastic, and I don’t want to totally give away what it is, even though it’s pretty apparent from the title…but it’s truly wild. It’s definitely gross, but watching Michael Parks act alongside this thing like it’s the most normal thing in the world is pretty astonishing and it builds to a truly bananas conclusion. Plus they kind of make Wallace a total jerk who reflects on his mistakes throughout his transformation, and makes it a weird character arc somehow. I don’t really know how this movie does anything it does, but it all kind of works in this messed up world they’ve built.
The side character of Guy Lapointe, played by Johnny Depp, is a French Canadian detective who helps Wallace’s friends try and track him down. He really leans into the whole stereotype of a French Canadian and honestly, it’s kind of funny. It gets annoying in Yoga Hosers but here it’s not as overwhelming because he comes in relatively late in the game and someone manages to be the least weird thing in this movie.
A gross out horror, mixed with a weird commentary on Canada, and dashed with a standout performance by a late legend, Tusk was both exactly and nothing like what I expected it would be.
Amy’s Recommendation: 8/10
P.S. If you want to see a really incredible performance, please check out Michael Parks in Kevin Smith’s Red State. Another brilliant performance that elevated the material it was given.