Tusk ★★★★½

There's a point in Kevin Smith's Tusk where the toxic absurdity reaches a boiling point of cathartic proportions, and It's a fork in the road of sorts. You'll either happily and giddily stroll down the left road, or annoyingly sprint down the right road. I'm in the former camp, and I couldn't be in a grander state of nirvana.

Tusk is simultaneously a subversive take on the classic "old house in the middle of nowhere" trope as well as a fable on the degradation of humanity. It's constantly off-putting, annoying, and jarring; but that's what brings the classic and monstrous feel to such a story. And that's what Tusk is at the end of the day, a story. Fascinatingly messy and terrifyingly ridiculous, Kevin Smith has woven a tale that is both original and daring beyond belief.

Justin Long stars as Wallace Bryton, a podcaster who is stuck in Canada after a booked gig suddenly is lost. Finding a mysterious and moody advertisement of room/board in a bar bathroom, Wallace decides to take the drive up to an old house and visit an elderly man who apparently has "many stories to tell." It's a setup that is wonderfully simplistic and grounded in horror tropes, but it's mainly used to subvert expectations. While I would've been extremely excited for a pure horror tale complete with every "haunted house" cliche around, the film community got something much more different, and in my eyes, something better.

Simply put, Tusk has a lot more to say than your typical horror picture. While the atmosphere is classical, claustrophobic, and disturbing beyond words, Smith's aim is much more humanly personal. The film as a whole feels like a bizarre mix of a fairy-tale, a hardcore slasher film, a classic Universal monster film, and a Kevin Smith picture. The combination isn't completely flawless, with some of the film's humor not landing perfectly, but it mostly works in a way that can only be described as unique and hysterically Gothic. Excuse me if I'm rambling in circles, but It's so fucking hard to describe this movie. I guess I tried above, but honestly, this is a beast of a film that needs to be seen to believed.

The performance by Michael Parks is probably the highlight of this whole film, aside from the atmosphere and the chaos that Tusk eventually reaches. He goes off the wall in the greatest way possible. It's easily the most iconic performance to come out of "horror" in years. Justin Long is also particularly good, and his role involves doing stuff that even Lars Von Trier would gasp at. This film gets crazy real fast, and I loved it. A certain cameo also blew my mind, and it happens to be the guy's best role in years. I don't know man, this was WEIRD.



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