It’s the Booze Talkin’: I’m thrilled to see Kevin Smith doing horror!

Last Updated on July 22, 2021

Horror filmmakers that transcend the balance between the bizarre and the horrific always excite me. Whether we are talking early David Cronenberg, Ken Russell or David Lynch, their repellant and oftentimes beautiful worlds created some serious nightmares for horror fans. While comparing director Kevin Smith to any of these genius filmmakers may seem outrageous, Smith certainly seems captivated and possibly inspired by such earlier masters of the macabre with his latest feature TUSK. This eccentric and compelling flick lies somewhere between THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE and THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU, yet with a healthy heaping of Smith brand humor.

Let’s talk about the cameo – if you’ve not seen TUSK and don’t want to know about it than WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD!

After about the halfway point we meet the utterly bizarre Guy Lapointe (Johnny Depp). This zany private investigator is one of the strangest cinematic supporting players of the year. Some have had issue that he doesn’t really contribute to the climax of the film. However, to me Lapointe feels like a classic Smith character. Would CLERKS exist without Jay and Silent Bob? Of course it would, but they made the ride all the more entertaining. This oddball investigator felt right at home in this comedic infused world of weirdness. Does he change the mood and atmosphere of this eerily haunting story? Sure he does, yet again, let us not forget the original ending of CLERKS and what happened to Dante [shot and killed] – and yes, I know it was changed, but that was one hell of a way to go.

The beauty of Smith taking on projects like RED STATE, and especially TUSK, is that he infuses this sense of fun and self-deprecating humor even in the darkest, and yes, most ludicrous situations. Right as the end credits roll we hear the podcast that had his fan base voting #YesWalrus to a movie about a man turned into an animal. As a writer and director and whatever the hell he wants to do, he is willing to open himself up as brutally as he does his characters. Justin Long’s Wallace Bryton is kind of a dick. He is one of the least likable horror movie heroes ever, yet his honesty about why he is who he is was extremely refreshing. Even Michael Parks complete and utter disgust with the human race seemed to be one of his appealing qualities. These characters merely accepted who they had become. Full Walrus baby!

There is nothing less satisfying in the genre than banality. When you sit in the darkened theatre and the on-screen horror plays out with nary a hint of an original idea. Sometimes watching the latest ghost story, or slasher, or found footage movie will feed your need for something scary, and that is fine. Yet the man behind MALLRATS is giving us something incredibly outlandish and indelibly unique to his own vision. Even if you feel it is an experiment that failed, it is far more exciting to watch that than the same old same old. To that I raise a glass to Mr. Smith. TUSK gave me more than that.

Maybe it’s the booze talkin’, but I’m thrilled to see Kevin Smith getting in a little “high-brow” horror! He started off with RED STATE and has improved with TUSK. Judging from this weekend’s box-office he clearly doesn’t have a blockbuster on his hands, but it was never meant to be. Sometimes the best horror is the most divisive. This is just a guy who has been reinvigorated by horror and is taking a few chances to do something different. I for one can’t wait to see where exactly he plans to go with his next feature – another horror comedy hybrid – YOGA HOSERS.

Source: Arrow in the Head

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JimmyO is one of JoBlo.com’s longest-tenured writers, with him reviewing movies and interviewing celebrities since 2007 as the site’s Los Angeles correspondent.