Remember when Kevin Smith was retiring from making movies? Yeah, that didn’t happen. The movie that was to be his last, the hockey-themed “Hit Somebody,” went from one film to two to a six-part miniseries to (thus far) not happening at all, and has instead returned with “Tusk,” a horror movie about a podcaster (Justin Long) getting turned into a walrus. Even some self-proclaimed Smith diehards thought the results dire, while others felt he’d at least partly pulled it off — no mean feat considering the genre’s demands and Smith’s career-long lack of interest in technical matters. What all involved agree on is that the movie is, not to put too fine a point on it, “batshit.” Up next for the movie is the batshit-friendly Fantastic Fest, followed by a theatrical opening on September 19.
Reviews of “Tusk”
Eric Kohn, Indiewire
An irreverent spoof of obnoxious Americans and good-natured Canadians that careers into body horror, “Tusk” is all of over the place. But despite its ludicrous turns, the movie sustains a far-fetched quality for its sheer willingness to go there, not unlike Smith’s goofy, self-deprecating public persona.
Drew McWeeny, HitFix
There is a glee to the filmmaking that is matched by a greater sense of control than I’ve seen from Smith before, and while I think the film is wildly uneven at times, I think that’s also the point. I’ve always said that I grade a film based on how well I think it accomplishes what the filmmaker is trying to do, and in this case, I’d say Smith is fairly on his game.
Chris Bumbray, JoBlo
Free from an obligation to investors, studios, or stars, Smith has made an absolutely macabre horror comedy that makes “The Human Centipede” seem almost mild in comparison.
Drew Taylor, the Playlist
“Tusk” is being marketed as a “truly transformative tale,” and by the end of the movie’s briskly paced 102 minutes, you’ll feel that it’s Smith who has been reinvented most of all. He’s using his skill set in a different genre, with a different agenda altogether, combining autobiographical elements, spooky late-night B-movie influences and a deeper thematic exploration of the nature of storytelling, to create something wholly unique and twisted. “Tusk” will be a lot of things to a lot of people (and we expect the reaction to the film to run the gamut from rapturous adoration to repulsed indifference), but at it’s best, “Tusk” is outlandishly unforgettable.
John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter
Plotted out on the spot during a feat of podcast improvisation with partner Scott Mosier (and allegedly inspired by an actual personals ad), the picture is deeply weird, with an entrancement factor almost entirely dependent on the performance of Michael Parks, who reteams with the director after appearing in 2011’s “Red State.” While a shifting focus toward other characters dilutes the pleasure in the second half, the often funny film will please the director’s devoted fan base and win over some schlock-horror lovers who may have little time for the “Clerks” universe.
Andrew Parker, Dorkshelf
It’s a hard film to take at face value or talk about because the reveals are part of the fun. Smith has really upped his game for the most part, though. Unafraid to balance the goofy with the grotesque or opaque, he adopts a structure of flashing back and forward between characters and long takes of people telling stories in a way that feels unique. Not only does his writing here serve to underline how Wallace is a creep who might be getting what he deserves and how Howard became unhinged, but ultimately his points about losing one’s sense of humanity feel personal. There are many moments where — despite Long’s appropriate “Paul F. Tompkins as a sociopath” performance — it seems like Smith is taking the piss out of himself.
TUSK: WTF WTF WTF WTF WTF WTF WTF WTF WTF WTF WTF WTF #TIFF
— Kate Erbland (@katerbland) September 7, 2014
TUSK is absolutely bonkers. It’s also immensely entertaining. #TIFF14
— Nigel M. Smith (@nigelmfs) September 7, 2014
TUSK: Somehow feels like a personal film from Kevin Smith, despite being about a crazy guy who wants to make a human walrus. #TIFF14
— Alison Willmore (@alisonwillmore) September 7, 2014
TUSK, a body horror comedy that amounts to Kevin Smith’s sweetest film. Rambles, but to “yes, and” itself to new levels of WTF. #TIFF
— Matt Patches (@misterpatches) September 7, 2014
TUSK: Smith goes full-walrus. Impersonal, masturbatory, deeply disturbing yet strangely sweet. But hey, he made it. This exists. #TIFF14
— Sam Fragoso (@SamFragoso) September 7, 2014
Kevin Smith’s TUSK is totally wild and totally ridiculous. You might say the Midnight Madness crowd was in stitches. #TIFF14
— Ryland Aldrich (@RylandAldrich) September 7, 2014
— Alex Billington (@firstshowing) September 7, 2014
TUSK (Smith): THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE is so bad. *How bad is it*? Kevin Smith just modestly improved it. Okay, very modestly. #TIFF14
— AADowd (@AADowd) September 7, 2014
As a supporter of Kevin Smith (even through the rough patches) I am still hesitant to share my thoughts about TUSK on Twitter. #tiff14
— Erik Childress (@EriktheMovieman) September 7, 2014