Try To Get Past The Walrus

Tusk (2014)
A Review By Ben Hunter
4 Out Of 5 Stars


There’s a sincere story here that’s surprisingly worth it.  However, I don’t think people will get past the silliness to notice it. 


On the province of Quebec, beginning in the 1940’s and continuing well into the 1960’s, orphaned children of unwed mothers were falsely accused of being “mentally ill” and a scheme was put into place.  With government funding, they would be kept under the care of Premier Maurice Duplessis with the help of the Roman Catholic Church.  In some cases the Catholic orphanages were relabeled as health care facilities and in other cases the children were shipped to insane asylums, all for the torture of the children.  Only until years and years later did the children who survived these wretched crimes began to speak out on the apprehension, the sexual abuse, and overall mistreatment they endured at the hands of the institutions and medical staff. 

This ... is “The Duplessis Orphan” ... This ... is Howard Howe (“how”). 

Howard (Michael Parks) abducts Wallace Bryton (Justin Long) and physically alters Wallace’s body into a walrus suit he’s created from human body parts of his previous victims.  We follow Wallace to discover the sick and twisted mind of Howard in Kevin Smith’s first of his “True North Trilogy”, Tusk. 

Informing Wallace of his stories as a sailor.  We learn that Howard was shipwrecked and stranded on a deserted island of sorts and a walrus; Mr. Tusk, saved his life, keeping him warm with its blubber.  His hatred towards mankind took over his mind, which he hates to admit, as he hates mankind for the torment he endured as a child, and he was forced to eat Mr. Tusk to survive.  So as a result, he relives his salvation, in a twisted way thinking he can obtain it, by capturing victims, turning them into Mr. Tusk, and setting himself free by giving them a chance to fight back.  If they live, they live on as a walrus or in his mind a freed and liberated Mr. Tusk having saved his life and Howard can rest in peace knowing he’s made amends with Mr. Tusk.  If they die, he finds another victim. 

Weird, creepy, eerie, yet filled with lots of humor, which such humor I come to find necessary to intake such a story.  To me, without it, this would just be too outlandish of a narrative.  During the ending credits we hear the podcast that writer/director Kevin Smith first created this world in the Canadian outskirts with a friend as they wisecrack about various scenes of a movie that could be, one being the actual ending of the movie.  On a whim this story came about and 6 months later after votes of “hashtag WalrusYes” was being filmed.  It’s very funny to listen to and the movie itself to watch.  It was cool seeing a grown up, overweight, Haley Joel Osment (the “I see dead people” kid from The Sixth Sense).  But as Smith mentioned, he himself wonders how this movie was made as it does give the feeling of “Why?  There are so many other things that could’ve been done.”

One of the main reasons to me is Genesis Rodriguez.  Not just because she could very well be the next inductee into my Hall of Favorite Actresses (one of “my girls”) as she’s talented as she is beautiful, I’ve written a screenplay with a part with her in mind, etc.  But her humanity and wanting to be loved as the woman of our hero, Wallace, that we painfully follow into the Mr. Tusk suit.  Her love of wanting to be loved reminded me again that men and women are different in how we view each other, and how I need to treat the women in my life.  She fell in love with the geek Wallace, and how pure his heart was before he became a big shot podcaster and went off to find weird stories to tell for it (how he found Howard).  My favorite part of the entire movie was when she works with “Guy Lapointe” (look him up *wink wink*, he was hilarious as he was amazing and if he said yes to this crazy story then there must be something to it in my book) and gives an amazing clue to lead the team to Wallace’s location.  A brilliantly written scene that says, “only his woman would know that … brilliant writing Kevin Smith”.  I peaked a little in my seat; my attention was now 100%.  My other favorite was her close up and she showcased her talents and I finally got to see more of her abilities as we realize, “this girl can act”.  She made this weird story click. 

To me, there was hardly any other hard, defining “why’s” other than her.  I would’ve liked to discover more of the past of Howard as it was quickly referenced and buried within his intellectual vernacular that kept me wondering exactly why.  The average person, in my opinion, would most likely find it hard to look past the obvious obscenity and discover the true purity of this story.  Things like with Genesis again and how she confesses to her boyfriend, now lost forever as Mr. Tusk, how humans can convey emotion through their tears and how this separates us from other mammals.  In my opinion, she saved this story (because of the writing primarily and her acting brought that writing to life).  

So there’s definitely a meaningful message behind the silliness, it’s surprisingly worth it.  However, I don’t think people will be able to get past the walrus to notice it. 

Horror/Comedy, 102 Minutes, R
Written & Directed by: Kevin Smith
Cast: Michael Parks, Justin Long, Genesis Rodriguez, Haley Joel Osment, Ralph German, & Guy Lapointe 

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