‘Tusk’s’ Genre Confusion Disorients Audience

Photo Courtesy of Tony Shek, Flickr Creative Commons

“Tusk,” the new horror film from acclaimed writer and director Kevin Smith, may not be exactly what you expect from the guy that brought you “Clerks,” “Chasing Amy” and “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.”

This is actually Smith’s second excursion into horror, with 2011’s “Red State” displaying his knowledge of the genre.

“Tusk” stars Justin Long as a podcaster looking for the next big story for his show. While off looking for a different subject in Canada, he comes across an odd ad for an apartment and decides to inquire. Shortly after, he is drugged, kidnapped and taken by the crazed Howard Howe (Michael Parks) and subject to insane experiments all involving the transformation from man to walrus.

During an episode for Smith’s show “Smodcast,” Smith and his colleague discovered an ad for an apartment that stated that a walrus suit would be required for one to two hours per day if living in the apartment, thus the story of “Tusk” was born.

It was later revealed that the ad was, in fact, just a joke, but the film became a reality with the help of Smith’s twitter followers, who were instructed to tweet “#WalrusYes” if they thought the film should be made.

In the beginning, Smith shows true mastery of the horror genre, and very effectively blends horror with his own blend of “Clerks” humor while at the same time keeping moments tense and suspenseful.

This mixture works well at first but at about the halfway point, “Tusk” begins to lose its direction. The film is funny when it should be scary and tense while trying to make Jay and Silent Bob­-esque jokes.