The newest offering from American director Kevin Smith (Clerks, Mallrats) is an unexpected trip into bat-shit crazy territory called Tusk – a film centred around an idea that was born during a podcast. Following the recording of SModcast ep.259, Smith held a Twitter vote to ask whether his idea should be made into reality, to which the majority voted #WalrusYes. The resulting film is a mixed bag to say the least, combining a Human Centipede-style horror plot with some extremely dark comedy, all of which is hinged on a phenomenal performance by Michael Parks.
The film is set in Winnipeg, and marks the first in a conceptual trilogy of Canada-centric films to be directed by Smith. Along with that concept comes a slew of jokes surrounding Canuck stereotypes, which mostly work to offend American culture just as much. While Smith appears to be on his game more than usual – hitting the nail on the head during the film’s most twistedly-hilarious moments – he still can’t overcome the stiffness that exists in so much of his character dialogue, as becomes most evident with Justing Long‘s asshole protagonist Wallace. Thankfully, the rest of the cast picks up some of the slack, with a strong performance by Genesis Rodriguez, the welcomed return of Haley Joel Osment, and a ridiculous and nearly unrecognizable Johnny Depp, who swings for the fences here.
In the end, the bizarre concept and incredible charisma of Michael Parks are what carry Tusk and help define it as a fun piece of schlocky entertainment, despite its many failings. Smith has crafted a film that is distinctly and refreshingly unlike his raunchy rom-com track record, but only time will tell if the novelty of this one will wear off.