Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tusk Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
From writer/director Kevin Smith (Clerks, Dogma, Mallrats) comes this wickedly funny modern-day monster movie that will hold you in terror as it keeps you in stitches. The highly anticipated film Tusk arrives on Blu-ray (plus Digital HD) and DVD (plus Digital) December 30th from Lionsgate Home Entertainment. Starring Michael Parks (Kill Bill: Vol. 1, Kill Bill: Vol. 2, Django Unchained), Justin Long (Live Free or Die Hard, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story), Haley Joel Osment (Amazon's "Alpha House," The Sixth Sense) and Genesis Rodriguez (Identity Thief, Hours), Tusk is being called "Kevin Smith's very best work" (Variety). Tusk premiered to the world at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival as a part of the Midnight Madness program and was released theatrically by A24.
Film (3 out of 5 stars)
During "An Evening with Kevin Smith" at last year’s Comic Con, Kevin Smith explained the origins of Tusk. Basically he had a silly idea for a film about a man who turns another man into a Walrus.  Smith wanted to know if anyone would want to see that movie and asked his fans to tweet #WalrusYes or #WalrusNo to let him know if this was a movie that should be made. The response was overwhelmingly positive and the film was soon a reality. During that same comic con discussion, Smith promised that the idea was not a metaphor; you would actually see a man become a walrus.  Right then, I decided that was something I was going to see.  

Describing Tusk is hard to do. In short, the film is about podcasters Wallace Bryton (Justin Long) and Teddy Craft (Haley Joel Osment). Their podcast is called the Not-See-Party where they find the oddest things on the internet.  Wallace scores an interview with a young man who suffered from an accidental, self-inflicted samurai sword wound. After making the journey to the man’s house he has recently committed suicide. All hope of getting a good interview seems lost, but a strange flyer catches his attention. The flyer offers room and board and amazing stories from the property owner Howard Howe (Michael Parks). Howard delivers stories from his days at sea and tells Wallace about how a walrus saved his life. Wallace accepts a cup of tea and wakes up in a wheelchair. It’s not long before Parks stops pretending to be a gracious host and starts turning Wallace into a Walrus. 

If someone asks me if I liked Tusk, my honest answer will be “I Don’t Know.” I’m giving the film major points for being original and disturbing in a new kind of way. Horror movies tend to copy each other a lot but this is unsettling and odd. If those are words that make you curious about what Kevin Smith has created, you should give it a try. If weird is not a bonus for you, then you should probably stick to standard cookie cutter thrillers. I expected the film to build up a bit more tension and maybe it would if you didn’t know where the film was headed. Even if you know where it’s headed, you still won’t be prepared for what you see. If you’re at all intrigued by that idea, give Tusk a chance. Fans of Kevin Smith may want to take note that his teenage daughter Harley Quinn Smith has a small part as one of the convenience store clerks.
Video (4 out of 5 stars)
Tusk is presented on Blu-ray with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in a 2.40:1 ratio. Most of the film takes place inside a single residence, which is dark and full of texture and detail. Image depth and color are appropriate in a strong presentation from Lionsgate. This film has few locations, but a lot to look at and the image quality holds up throughout.
Audio (4 out of 5 stars)
Tusk's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix will easily surround the listener. Wallace’s screams when he realizes his fate and his wails when the transformation has taken place feel immersive and eerie. Dialogue whether spoken clearly or whispered/cried into a phone is intelligible throughout the film with no major audio complaints.
Extras (3 out of 5 stars)
The Blu ray contains the following bonus features, all worth watching if you’re a fan of Smith and this film.
  • Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Kevin Smith - Smith understandably focuses on the concept and story of Tusk over the implementation of his strange idea. I’ve always enjoyed listening to Smith talk, even if I don’t agree with what he says, he can usually be counted on for an interesting dialogue about any topic. 
  • 20 Years to Tusk – Although it feels like he had a weird idea and made it happen in a flash, Smith discusses the path that led him to the completion of Tusk in this 24 minute featurette. 
  • The Making of Tusk – These comprehensive making of featurettes are separated into the following categories: Main Story, Pre-Production, Director Down, Filming Takes 1 – 6, Production Design, From Pod to Screen, Flying with Mewes, Meet the Crew, and Wallace the Walrus. 
  • Smodcast #259: The Walrus and the Carpenter - Lasting just under thirty minutes, the original podcast that led to this film. 
  • Deleted Scenes – two lengthy deleted scenes with introduction from Kevin Smith.
    Summary (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
    I was unable to catch this film in the theater and I feel like I waited a long time to see it on Blu-ray.  I wasn’t disappointed.  I don’t know when I will be ready to watch this again, or who I would watch it with.  It’s interesting, unique and something you just can’t unsee (in a good way).  Although it’s not a gruesome horror flick, it’s not for the faint of heart either.  I recommend the film to all the peculiar people I know and those with eccentric taste in movies. #WalrusYes

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