Alright, time to get weird you guys. Kevin Smith has a new horror movie, and I actually really enjoyed his last one. So, I decided to dive into Tusk despite hearing some comparisons to one of the most horrendous horror movies ever, The Human Centipede. So, here’s the story, and then we can dive right in :
When podcaster Wallace Bryton goes missing in the backwoods of Manitoba while interviewing a mysterious seafarer named Howard Howe, his best friend Teddy and girlfriend Allison team with an ex-cop to look for him.
Ok, so I know its 2014 and people to tend to know what podcasts are, I’m not sure that building your movie around a podcaster is the most accessible way to build a story, but that’s really not a huge issue. Just a thought. We also have some pretty unlikable leading men in Justin Long’s Wallace (Get it? ITS KIND OF LIKE WALRUS) and Hayley Joel Osment’s Teddy. Wallace is kind of an asshole for no reason, and Teddy isn’t exactly winning huge points in the best friend department. Either way, the two of them have a podcast called “The Not-See Party” that involves Wallace travelling and meeting new people, while Teddy stays home. Wallace then returns, and tells Teddy the story.
Not sure if I’d listen to it, but hey, I might.
So, lets talk about the actors. While I might not especially like Wallace or Teddy as characters, compared to the other big characters in the movie they are pretty likable. Genesis Rodriguez does a fine job, but is relegated to Wallace’s “way-too-hot-girlfriend” with not much else going on in her character except for some conflict that I won’t spoil for you. There’s also a bizarre performance from Johnny Depp, playing a french detective called Guy Lapointe, who has a huge and absurd nose for no reason.
Depp’s character is erally out of place and his arrival changes the tone of the whole movie. I’m not really sure how I felt about him, but I also understand that he’s a pretty huge get. Or at least, he was a few years ago. Michael Parks is awesome in this movie, he plays crazy so well and he really is an unsettling and off-putting character from beginning to end. Since the comparison keeps coming up, Parks’ character Howard is substantially more interesting and defined than Dr. Heiter from Human Centipede.
The story is pretty simple, nothing to deep or complex but really that’s ok. The tone is a little bit all over the place, and that almost makes it more unnerving and disturbing.
Lets talk about why we’re all here. Is this movie disturbing? Is it THE MOST FUCKED UP THING OF ALL TIME BROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO? The short answer is “Kind of”. The long answer is that, well, this movie actually really squicked me out. I found the effect used for Wallace’s transformation really upsetting and hard to look at. I don’t really know what I expected, but the result is gross and weird. While it looks pretty artificial, it still registered in the part of my brain that made me feel ill whenever I had to look at it.
There’s also something about inescapable consequences that really upsets me. The idea that this character is now forever stuck in this horrible, living prison just really gets under my skin in all the worst ways. As well, it’s really weird to see Hayley Joel Osment be a romantic interest for an adult woman, something about watching that felt inappropriate or … like something I shouldn’t be watching.
So with all of that said, is this movie good? Yes, actually it really is. It’s extremely watchable and, with the exception of Depp’s weird performance, it’s an overall solid movie. If you’re looking for something creepy, gross, and you were wondering what it would look like if someone filled 11 year old Hayley Joel Osment with air, then you should check this movie out. The movie made me queasy and uncomfortable, and also managed not to take it’s absurd premise too seriously. Everything Human Centipede SHOULD HAVE DONE. In a way that didn’t make me resent the director.
FINAL GRADE : B-