By Jesse Saunders SPECIAL TO THE CHRONICLE
“I like to keep it real and raunchy,” stated Wallace (Justin Long), the main character, and while the real factor can be argued, director Kevin Smith does manage to keep his genre-bending horror raunchy.
Following Smith’s last attempt at horror, “Red State,” the quick tone changes and dark humor of “Tusk” is much more Smith’s style and it shows. The film is obnoxious, confusing and too caught up in its own gimmick, but despite all its flaws, creates a hilarious and scary film, that almost always hits the mark.
Podcasters Wallace and Teddy (Haley Joel Osment) run a show focusing on the bizarre world and the people inhabiting it. Wallace shines in a role that highlights the self-made Internet celebrity of today, as co-host of the “Not-See Party.”
After coming across a viral video, Wallace brushes off his girlfriend Ally (Genesis Rodriguez) and heads to the great white north for an interview. When Wallace finds out about his potential interviewee’s death, he heads into the middle of nowhere, desperate for a story, and ends up at the home of Howard Howe (Michael Parks).
Wallace’s selfish curiosity leads him into Howe’s terrifying and gruesome kidnapping scheme that make the central plot.
While “Tusk” takes breaks from its lighthearted and self-insulting
tone for the scenes between Howe and Wallace, it is never fully abandoned. The horror hits the mark with the help of some fantastic makeup, and a killer performance from Michael Parks.
The transformation and final horror reveal of Howe’s gruesome plan are shocking but will be quite the throwback for any fans of campy horror series, “The Evil Dead.”
On top of the spot-on makeup job, Smith makes great use of his talented cinematographer, James Laxton, to create an atmosphere that can transition from creepy to comedy without missing a beat.
Smith seems truly at home in this strange genre bender, but still seems to be cautious about fully stepping out of his comfort zone. The scene changes and flashbacks sometimes seem more fit for a pure comedy movie, though the jokes may endear the film those who are not really big horror fans.
In the end “Tusk” lives strongly by the motto, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take” and makes a joke whenever the opportunity presents itself.
This does lead to some jokes that feel forced, and a celebrity cameo that slowly goes from hilarious, to tiresome and back to hilarious at the drop of a hat.
Overall Smith’s film plays on its strengths enough that the tiresome jokes, and pure absurdity of the concept can be overlooked, making for a thoroughly confusing, yet overall enjoyable film.