Tusk

star2star2star2

Twisted, dark, wrong, weird, and somehow still funny and entertaining. Smith (Zack and Miri Make a Porno) shows some rare control, restraining the humor before it cliffs, like a bad SNL skit. Despite the absurdity of the premise, the story feels just close enough to real to keep you going along.

Long (Drag Me to Hell) and Parks (Django Unchained) create a great duo. Parks adds wonderful dimensions to the term “creepy” over the length of the film. Long, on the other hand, really doesn’t come into his own till the latter third of the film. For the first couple thirds Long is often just annoying. This was probably part of the point, but it didn’t make for the best watching.

Osment (Alpha House) and Rodriguez (Big Hero 6) support the rest of the story in a complex web that is often obvious and, just as often, avoids the obvious. Neither is brilliant, but each serves their purpose, and this is a horror film at heart, so sometimes that is enough.

In the end, though, the film is stolen by the uncredited (though far from a secret) Depp (Transcendence) as Guy Lapointe. The subtle prosthetics are brilliant, and the character, an odd cross between Peter Sellers and Peter Falk, is riveting. And, sadly, that performance shatters the entire structure of the film even as the oddest part of it takes hold. At least it did for me.

I didn’t expect much from this Smith outing, to be honest. His humor is usually just not on target for me. But I do appreciate his vision and ability and had heard enough of Tusk to get me to spend the time to watch it. It is something to behold. You’ll have to decide for yourself if it works or not.

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