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  Tusk Walrus Waffle
Year: 2014
Director: Kevin Smith
Stars: Michael Parks, Justin Long, Genesis Rodriguez, Haley Joel Osment, Johnny Depp, Harley Morenstein, Ralph Garman, Jennifer Swalbach, Harley Quinn Smith, Lily-Rose Melody Depp, Ashley Greene, Douglas Banks, Matthew Shively
Genre: Horror, ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Wallace Bryton (Justin Long) hosts a podcast called The Not See Party, so named because he goes off and finds these wild stories to discuss with his co-host Teddy Craft (Haley Joel Osment), who never accompanies him on his excursions, therefore has "not seen" any of them before they record. Currently their latest obsession is with a teenager called The Kill Bill Kid, who videoed himself practicing moves in his garage with a samurai sword and accidentally cut off his own leg, which they and their listeners find hilarious. Sensing a solid story, Wallace heads off to Canada to track him down for an interview - but finds more than one nasty surprise awaiting him across the border.

Director Kevin Smith is a man who likes a good story, whether telling it or listening to it the art of conversation is very important to him, so it was natural that the podcasts he contributed to would be the source of inspiration for him when he was making his films, and so it was with Tusk. If you watched the credits all the way through, there was a clip of the discussion that gave rise to this, pointing out that what sounded like a contemporary horror movie idea sounded a lot more like a ludicrous concept that somehow people would take seriously if presented in a straightfaced fashion, in which case the joke was on that section of the audience who swallowed this kind of entertainment.

Like a walrus swallows a fish, you might say, but it was a long way to go to lampoon trends in horror flicks, and given it took what seemed like ages to get to the point in this telling, perhaps a step too far for anyone but the most devoted Smith aficionado, who would be in on the joke from the start. By the time it has reached its faux-tragic conclusion, you may be wondering if the joke was on Smith for spending so much time on something that may have been better left as a podcast anecdote, and though the film itself was shot in a couple of weeks, so not a huge bite out of the existence of his cast and crew, it was still an awful lot of effort expended on a throwaway riff that somehow got way out of hand.

At least it had a cast who in the main were not winking at the audience, so the tone was more or less accurate to the kind of straight to DVD efforts you may take a chance on for want of anything better to watch, though the acres of talk gave Smith away as oddly the experience became about spinning a yarn, having that killer anecdote to keep your listeners enthralled: yes, it was a movie about how great the whims of podcasting could be. No matter that Wallace winds up in a terrible state, we can see he has become the thing he was obsessed with, the next story for his broadcast that will always have to top the last one, thus ending his cycle of storytelling as in a horror twist he is transformed into the living embodiment of that preoccupation.

Smith and his team had been inspired by a news story out of Britain where a hoaxer had placed an ad in a local newspaper asking for company, specifically someone who would spend some time with him dressed in a walrus outfit he would supply. It made the rounds of the "funny old world" news items before being exposed - much as the similarly-inspired Safety Not Guaranteed had the same year - but lived on in Tusk, where the lonely soul was played by veteran Michael Parks, a character who also liked to chat, only he has designs on Wallace that you can probably guess from his name and the fact this was mentioned in the same breath as The Human Centipede when it was released. That search for a story has been Wallace's undoing, and the fact Teddy and his girlfriend Ally (Genesis Rodriguez) are on the case, accompanied by a suspiciously familiar-looking serial overacting quirkster may not be enough to save him. Basically, since the whole thing was a complete put on from start to finish it was difficult to regard Tusk as a chiller, and the humour was oblique to say the least. Music by Christopher Drake.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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Kevin Smith  (1970 - )

American writer-director, by turns self-indulgent and hilarious. His first film Clerks brought him cult success, but he followed it with the big studio flop Mallrats. Chasing Amy was a return to form, and Dogma courted religious controversy. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back was a tribute to the double act who appeared in every one of his films up until then (Silent Bob was played by Smith himself). Jersey Girl was a conventional romantic comedy that disappointed most of his fans.

Smith is also a writer of comic books, both established characters (Daredevil, Green Arrow) and his own creations. An attempt to turn Clerks into a cartoon series was a failure - but it was damn funny all the same. Fans of the characters could console themselves with the sequel Clerks II. He then offered sex comedy Zack and Miri Make a Porno to mixed reviews, and Cop Out to downright terrible ones which led him to much public complaining. Self-proclaimed horror movie Red State, however, won him some of the best reactions of his career, though audiences were fewer in number.

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