Tusk: The Most Original Thriller of 2014
I make this statement, but if I am honest, this is one of the most original storylines I’ve seen in any horror or thriller in a very long time. Tusk isn’t the kind of film that is going to blow your mind like something such as Inception. While this film may not be in the running for awards, it should not be dismissed so easily. What this little film is, is a labor of love. It is a happy harmony between creator and creation. It will make you laugh, disgust you, and unnerve you all at the same time. It is these variables that make Tusk so important and watch worthy.
Kevin Smith has been known for films such as Clerks, Chasing Amy, and Dogma. While most of his previous films have been driven by story, his films are also known for their outrageous and raunchy comedy. I have personally been a fan a Kevin Smith’s for practically forever. His movies have always entertained me, and I am a great fan of his podcasts. There was a time in Mr. Smith’s career, where he had decided to completely give up on film making. His previous endeavor, Cop Out, left such a bitter taste in his mouth that he saw no other reason to put himself through something so horrible. The simplest of solutions was to quit making movies. It would have been very easy for Mr. Smith to do this as well. His budding podcast business was just starting to soar, and profits from this business were becoming more successful and stable than any of his films before had ever been.
Maybe it was all of his life lessons finally lining up into a conceivable pattern or his newly regular consumption of weed. Perhaps, maybe, a little of both. Whatever it was brought upon an epiphany of sorts that gave Mr. Smith the confidence to stop trying to conform to a specific belief and expectation that Hollywood continues to cloak over the masses flocking toward it. Hollywood is capable of many things, many great things, but the one thing it cannot do is create. People create. Kevin Smith creates, and began to create for himself and no one else. The first film project birthed from this revelation was the film Red State. This was a film so unlike his previous films, that if you didn’t know it was Kevin Smith’s brain child, you honestly wouldn’t know. It was provoking, intriguing, and baffling all at the same time. And it was serious, probably the most serious film that he had yet created. If you have not seen this film either, I highly recommend you looking into it. This revelation and large support for Red State allowed the opportunity for the movie Tusk to happen.
So what is Tusk? It is a movie about a podcaster named, Wallace, traveling up to the Great White North in hopes of doing an interview for his show. Unfortunately, things do not go as planned for Wallace, and he finds himself on a wasted vacation with nothing to bring back. In a desperate search to right his fate, he finds himself journeying to the home of an old man with promises of great stories. The eccentric old man gives Wallace nibbles of stories knowing exactly what to say to bait the curious attention of his guest, but the old man isn’t just a storyteller. He is a creator, and he what he creates for poor Wallace is a nightmare unlike any that has ever come before. But the creator needs time, and the world must continue outside of his walls. This allowed for a small moment of hope for Wallace when he comes upon his cellphone, and he reaches out to his closest friends back in LA for help. He leaves them a voicemail message filled with fearful rantings and desperate pleas, which hastens them to Canada. There they search for Wallace, teaming up with even more eccentric detective in hopes to find their friend. What they do find is something so unimaginable that is changes their world and most significantly, Wallace’s.
Tusk is a well-timed rollercoaster of emotions and suspense. The story is wonderfully crafted to have you laughing one minute and terrified the next. The acting is superb, especially from the underrated Michael Parks, who plays the old man. His character is our generations Hannibal Lector. The moment, when his character unveils his deceit and becomes his true self, is so unnerving that it had to have the same effect on me as my mother and others like her had when Silence of the Lambs first came out. The tension is constantly broken, and I am thankful of that, by the well-crafted antics of an awkward detective, played by an actor known for his fantastic craft. Now now, please do not run to the internet and search for the actor playing this role. It is far more fun to discover the identity of the cleverly disguised man when watching. He isn’t even credited in the film, just his character. This secret is half the fun. We even have Haley Joel Osment, playing one of the first roles I have seen him in as an adult. Not to be forgotten of course is Justin Long, who plays the lead role as Wallace. I have always enjoyed him as an actor, and while he tends to lean towards comedy, his ability in drama is just as stupendous. He is adventurous with his acting and films, this one no different. I just don’t think, that on the day he decided he was going to become an actor, this particular character was ever thought as a possibility.
This truly is a fantastic and original film. If you are a horror and thriller buff, you must make time for this. As for Kevin Smith, I have a small message for you. I greatly enjoy your films, your wisdom, and comedy in your podcasts. Others may give you grief for changing up your film making, but I just want to say that I encourage it. It is clear that your heart has driven your last two films, and they are something to be proud of. I am just as sure that your heart will be in Clerks III when it comes out, because you are doing what you want. That will ensure that it is great. Hell, I think that your heart was even in Jersey Girl. I have heard you side with the general public when it comes to that movie. How I see it. Hollywood already assigned you to a particular mold and viewership when you made that film. That movie just didn’t fit in that mold. Since it seems you have now set that mold on fire, I hope your can find even the tiniest of places in your heart for Jersey Girl, because I have found one in mine. Thank you for all the entertainment, and I look forward to your next creation.