Director: Kevin Smith
Cast: Justin Long, Michael Parks, Haley Joel Osment
Release Date: Available on Blu-Ray & DVD December 30th
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 8.5/10
Disc Rating: 9/10
A podcaster (Long) looking for a juicy story is plunged into an unpredictable, unsettling and absurd nightmare after he travels to the backwoods of Canada to meet an eccentric recluse (Parks) with a lifetime of adventures-and a disturbing fondness for walruses.
Welcome to the wonderfully bizarre world of Kevin Smith’s latest film ‘Tusk’. It tells the story of Wallace (Long), a podcaster who heads to Canada to interview an internet celebrity for his podcast only to arrive and find he has committed suicide. Desperate for something of substance that he can use for his podcast in order to justify the trip, he notices an offer from a wealthy old man pinned to the wall in a pub bulletin board, a man willing to tell stories of his well experienced life in exchange for small chores he’s no longer capable of, in addition to a place to stay. Unable to resist such a unique and well timed opportunity, Wallace reaches out and soon after arrives at the home of Mr. Howard Howe (Parks). He is welcomed kindly and in no time is immersed within amazing tales told by the man. Unfortunately, Mr. Howe’s intentions are not as simple as they seem and in a swift change for Wallace, he becomes the man’s captive and toy for deeds far more disturbing than he could have possibly imagined.
Kevin Smith wrote and directed the hilariously disturbing ‘Tusk’ which was originally inspired by an episode of his own podcast (or SMODcast) series (more on that in the following paragraph) and he does a fantastic job pulling it off and bringing this incredibly silly concept to life in a surprisingly gratifying manner. His work behind the camera is once again greatly complimented by a well suited and talented cast, including Justin Long (whose mustache alone is just too great), Haley Joel Osment, and Genesis Rodriguez, along with the incredibly talented Michael Parks and a few other faces you might recognize. The entirety of the cast delivers solid performances in each of their respective roles, but Michael Parks and “Guy Lapointe” are easily the standout performances. Parks once again delivers a downright creepy performance in his portrayal of Howard Howe (he was also outstandingly creepy in Smith’s phenomenal previous film ‘Red State’) and “Guy Lapointe” is ridiculously on point and so into the role its impossible not to love. For those who haven’t yet seen the film or come across the information, don’t worry because the quotations will make sense afterwards.
First off, let me state that I am a huge fan of Kevin Smith and have been for quite some time. I first rented ‘Clerks’ many years back on VHS, then shortly after saw the poster for ‘Mallrats’ at my local theater, subsequently saw that on the big screen, followed by ‘Chasing Amy’ and so on; I’ve been a huge fan of his ever since. For those who appreciate Smith’s work and enjoy his filmmaking efforts, I would highly recommend ‘Tusk’ which is a perfect follow up to ‘Red State’. For those unaware, ‘Tusk’ is actually based on an idea which sprouted on an episode of Smith’s podcast (or SMODcast) series titled ‘The Walrus & the Carpenter’ (the episode is indeed included on the Blu-Ray release) and the idea voted for or against by fans using the hash tag’s #WalrusYES or #WaltrusNO to decide whether it should be made into a film. The #WalrusYES votes took the majority and the film has been made. Once you take that into account, it’s really quite a remarkable accomplishment that he was able to formulate this so smoothly and so faithfully, keeping to the basic ideas created on the podcast episode, ideas that were more than likely nothing but simple banter at the get go. The film manages to be emotional at times, downright disturbing at others, yet also hilarious throughout. It all comes together wonderfully; combining into an exceptional and unique horror comedy unlike anything you’ve seen before.
The Blu-Ray release of ‘Tusk’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the film’s original 2.40:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks stunning; the colors are bright, smooth and incredibly detailed, never lacking in clarity. All aspects of the video presentation look sharp and with a pretty healthy bitrate allotted it. No issues or notable faults could be found within on my end and if anything it’s surprisingly superior to a large majority of titles. Fans of this wonderfully quirky little film watching it again, as well as the Kevin Smith fans such as me watching it for the first time, should both be absolutely thrilled with this high definition video presentation.
The Blu-Ray release features a lossless 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This lossless soundtrack perfectly complements ‘Tusk’ by successfully keeping certain moments extremely calm and quiet, while letting surrounding effects and the wonderfully fitting score immerse the viewer during others. Certain moments hit hard and clear enough to accomplish the desired cringe effect, which really helps to bring the viewer deeper into the overall experience of the film. Along with the video presentation, this 5.1 channel DTS-HD MA soundtrack gets top marks and should leave the masses more than satisfied.
The Blu-Ray release of ‘Tusk’ includes a pretty nice collection of bonus goodies. Included on the Blu-Ray release is an Audio Commentary track with writer/director Kevin Smith, along with a featurette titled ’20 Years To Tusk’ which features Kevin Smith detailing the 20 years of his career leading up to ‘Tusk’ and runs approximately 25 minutes in length. Next we’re treated to ‘The Making of Tusk’ which is compiled of numerous short featurette’s (14 to be exact if I’m not mistaken) hosted by ‘Tusk’ producer and longtime friend of Smith, the one and only Jason Mewes and detail pretty much the entirety of the film’s production, from story concept to final product. Also included is the original Smodcast episode that started it all (Smodcast #259: The Walrus & the Carpenter) in addition to a couple of deleted scenes both of which include introductions by Kevin Smith and feature more storytelling from the wonderfully talented Michael Parks.
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