Tusk has such a weird origin for a horror movie in that the concept for it originally came out of the SModcast, Kevin Smith’s comedy podcast. They had found an ad on a British version of Craigslist called Gumtree where someone was offering free lodgings as long as you were willing to dress up as a walrus. This caused Smith and co-host Scott Mosier to go on a long rant where they describe how this is definitely the beginning of a horror movie and by the end of it, they have an almost entirely fleshed out script. Tusk is the realization of that script.
The main focus of the story is on Wallace, a podcaster and general asshole of a guy that goes around interviewing weird and interesting people and then comes back to tell his co-host Teddy about it. Since Teddy doesn’t see the interview, they refer to themselves as the “Not See” Party. Wallace was going to go interview a kid that cut his own leg off in an embarrassing viral video but when he gets to Canada, he finds the kid has killed himself due to all the cyber bullying. All of this leads to Wallace finding a notice in a bar bathroom where someone is promising a free room and nautical stories. The asshole protagonist’s comeuppance comes when the would-be interviewee is actually a crazy killer trying to turn people into walruses. Or, rather, a very specific walrus.
There is a decent amount of comedy in the movie, though probably less than you would assume given the origin of it. Most of the humor tries to stem from the ridiculousness of the situation and the over-the-top characters but the body horror in the film is so effective that a lot of what might have been humorous just seems weirdly out of place given what’s happening. Trying to be a comedic version of The Human Centipede is a pretty bold vision and sometimes the movie even manages to get there. Other times you have Johnny Depp doing a shitty accent and basically just chewing scenery because he can.
Speaking of actors, the lead is played by Justin Long and as much as the movie wants you to think he is an asshole, Justin Long is so goddamn lovable that I just can’t. The villain is played by Michael Parks and he does an amazing job of vacillating wildly between this proper, serious gentleman and a complete psycho obsessed with a walrus. The walrus transformation is suitably grotesque and horrifying and for a movie that was apparently shot over the course of 15 days, the make-up and effects work is very good. Which, again, just serves to make the whole thing all the more confused as what might have been played for laughs instead has some actually unsettling bodily mutilation.
For me, I think the weirdness of the premise worked. I honestly doubt this would be for everyone but I would give it a 4 out of 5.