A campfire story is told pretty poorly

Tom Long
Detroit News Film Critic
When podcaster Wallace Bryton goes missing in the backwoods of Manitoba while interviewing a mysterious seafarer named Howard Howe, his best friend Teddy and girlfriend Allison team with an ex-cop to look for him.

Disappointing, dismaying, ismal, distressing ... It's hard to come up with just one word that reflects how bad "Tusk" is.

I know, what a shock, someone made a horror movie and it's awful. But when that someone is Kevin Smith ("Clerks," "Dogma," "Chasing Amy"), once one of the brightest lights to emerge from the indie film movement, there's a certain sadness involved.

The guy known for rapid-fire dialogue that cut right through social conventions ... he wrote these dead scenes? The guy who was ready to expose theological hypocrisy and cut to the core of romance ... he's serving up this corny campfire story?

Afraid so.

"Tusk" follows Wallace Bryton (Justin Long), a successful podcaster, as he travels to Canada to interview a guy who cut off his own leg while videotaping himself doing "Kill Bill" moves. Wallace and his partner, Teddy (Haley Joel Osment), revel in this kind of stuff.

When that interview doesn't work out, Wallace happens upon a letter posted in a bar's bathroom, an invitation to visit a former seaman (Michael Parks) who now has a remote mansion in the woods. So Wallace calls him up and heads out for a visit.

Of course, the guy turns out to be bonkers and things don't go well for Wallace. Eventually, Teddy and Wallace's girlfriend (Genesis Rodriguez) come searching for their friend.

The preposterous turns in the story might be taken as some kind of satire if the film were tightly made. But most of the scenes here are either too long, too dull or both. There's no snap to the dialogue, no truth to the characters and the general feel of an elementary school play is pervasive. Seriously, Kevin, how could you?




Rated R for some disturbing violence/gore, language and sexual content

Running time: 102 minutes