Tusk (2014) (Blu-ray film review).

July 7, 2015 | By | Reply More

If ever there was a strange movie then ‘Tusk’ is it. Written and directed by Kevin Smith, it tells the sad tale of radio DJ Wallace Bryton (Justin Long) in his fanatic quest to secure weird podcasts for his show. Wallace talks constantly and will just not shut up, an endless issue of verbal diarrhoea coming from his mouth and, when he sees a video of an oddball from up north in Manitoba doing a sword dance and cutting off his leg in the process, he’s just got to do an interview. Sadly, by the time he arrives, it’s too late because the oddball is getting buried after committing suicide.


Not to be outdone, he sees a letter on the toilet wall, along with other advertisements and miscellaneous trash, which gives information about a wandering seafarer full of stories to share. This seems to be just up his street, so he makes contact and organises an expedition into the wild unknown to meet this character. The journey goes on into the night, ending up at a creepy mansion somewhere in the backwoods, a place that any sensible person would avoid like the plague. Wallace innocently charges on, not knowing what fate would await.

Howard Howe (Michael Parks of ‘Kill Bill’ fame) is a wily old beggar who sits in a wheelchair with legs crossed. He listens to the babble from Wallace, giving him a cup of tea which not surprisingly contains a strong sedative. Next thing Wallace knows, he wakes up to find he has lost a leg, amputated some time during the night. With no way to escape, he has been captured by Howard but for what purpose? It turns out that he is going to be surgically transformed into a walrus. The old guy isn’t disabled after all and treating his captive with disdainful indifference, he proceeds to carry out gruesome procedures, cutting and stitching up various parts of Wallace’s body.

Michael Parks plays the part excellently, almost like Doctor Mengele from a Nazi concentration camp, he inflicts butchery beyond belief while the helpless Wallace sinks into oblivion. It’s a strange and awful sight containing elements of horror and black comedy. The viewer begins to realise that there is no hope for Wallace because the disfigurements are so severe that they have gone beyond the point of no return. Eventually, with the torturer sewing a walrus skin around his body and using the amputated legs to make tusks, the unfortunate DJ effectively becomes a walrus and by psychological conditioning, begins to think like one as well.

In the meantime, Wallace’s girlfriend and his best friend try to find him and with the help of a detective they eventually track down his whereabouts but it wasn’t going to be a happy reunion. This film is uniquely strange, disturbing and horrific. The reason for the transformation becomes apparent later in the movie and it’s obvious that Howard is mad beyond redemption but it’s the detachment, the indifference and the suffering permeating the entire proceedings which set the mood so much so that watching it is a very arduous experience.

There are no moral issues here except for the limits which humans can do to inflict pain on each other. Although Wallace is a bit of an idiot who doesn’t treat his girlfriend all that well, you still feel sorry for him even to the point that you wish he would die, if only to ease his pain and predicament. It’s a movie that you maybe wish you hadn’t seen.

For some strange reason my disc player could not access the bonus features on the review disc but they are reputed to be the following: deleted scenes, audio commentary with the director, a featurette entitled ‘20 Years To Tusk’ and other features about the making of the movie. It also contains the podcast which initially attracts Wallace to the wilds of Canada.

This is a professionally made movie with good directing, writing and acting. It’s so unusual that it has a genre all of its own, well almost, and if you watch it, maybe you will not like it but at least you will remember ‘Tusk’. It’s one to recommend.

Rod MacDonald

June 2015

(Region A/1: pub: Lionsgate. 1 blu-ray disk. Price: $24.99 (US), £16.74 (UK). ASIN: B00NX8RUZE)

cast: Michael Parks, Haley Joel Osment, Justin Long and Johnny Depp

check out website: www.lionsgatefilms.co.uk


Category: Films, Horror

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