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Midnight Madness Report: Tusk

tusk

TIFF

Kevin Smith’s Tusk is every bit as effed up as its premise about a dude who’s surgically turned into a walrus would suggest. The film saw its world premiere at Midnight Madness this week, where it was met with a big ol’ standing O. Afterwards, Star Justin Long told the audience that his agents begged him not to do it. But like everyone who was present for the late-night screening, Long said he “wanted to see if Smith could do it.” Oh, he did it, alright.

For those who haven’t heard about this batshit cray body horror-comedy, Tusk is actually based off one of Smith’s own podcasts, called “The Walrus and the Carpenter.” The film version sees Long as a reprehensible podcaster (clearly a self-deprecating spin-off of the guy who made this movie), who travels to Manitoba to exploit some unfortunate Canuck, made internet-famous by foolishly slicing off his own leg with a katana sword. When this interview falls through, Long goes off the grid to hook up with a new subject (Michael Parks), who turns out to be a psychopath bent on transforming men into walruses. Tusk, flippers, all that.

Other than the insane walrus transformation, Parks’ performance as an eccentric old seafarer is the real glue that holds this film together. Just as in Smith’s previous film, Red State, the actor really gives it his all, and the upshot is simultaneously hilarious, demented, and even a little sweet. The man is without a doubt Smith’s secret weapon.

To spoil what happens next would take the fun out of the film, but it’s worth saying that unlike The Human Centipede and other shockers of the “torture porn” variety, Smith is less invested in making us gag than he is making us laugh nervously and say to ourselves, “How does this movie exist?!” Just before screening the film, Smith explained to the audience that he had reached a point in his career where he “just didn’t give a fuck anymore.” If that’s what it takes for the director to make one of the most inspired films of his 20-year career, sign me up for more.

I’m not going to be the one who spoils it for you (you can easily find the answer with a quick Google search), but Tusk contains one of the most surprising and offbeat cameos ever. Let’s just say a massively popular actor has a pretty hefty and hardly recognizable role as a French-Canadian detective named Guy LaPointe. And no, I’m not referring to Long’s podcast sidekick, played by Haley Joel Osment.

Click here for more information on TIFF’s Midnight Madness program or to purchase tickets

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