Michael Parks is AMAZING. Just watching him talk in the first 30 minutes of this film, before the madness truly starts, listening to his stories, watching every muscle of his face working in complete control and harmony, in full mastery of his craft … in the service of this madcap horror movie about a man who gets turned into a walrus. Because, of course. I’m impressed more – watching him here – than I was with him in Red State, and I was very impressed with him in Red State! Heaven’s gain is truly cinema’s loss.

Justin Long I also really like in this. He’s playing a shit, but Long somehow manages to keep him likeable enough. There’s a hint of vulnerability that excuses the gobshite bravado and selfishness, and sells the tragedy when things go south. I just don’t like the moustache. It’s a weird trait that doesn’t fit with his manboy podcasting character or his baby face. If it’s just for the poster art, I wouldn’t have bothered because that typography is strong enough without it.

There are downsides to Tusk for sure. The premise is love it or hate it. The origin of the screenplay is literally a conversation between two podcasters shooting the shit about a funny fake ad they came across and then adlibbed a whole film scenario on the fly. I actually love that that scenario is here on screen pretty much verbatim, but I can see how that could rub somebody else up the wrong way. The fact that Long’s character is also a podcaster could be seen as self-indulgent, I’m sure. There’s some truly awful CGI that I found confusing at first because we’re supposed to take it as real. There’s also some relationship stuff that really doesn’t work or matter.

But whatever. It’s a fairly tight ride with little flab. Even an unexpected Johnny Depp interlude – that, admittedly, would have been better received ten years earlier – was weird but wonderful. And the fate of our would-be walrus protagonist is, against all odds (though maybe you have to be in the right mood to start with), surprisingly wrenching and sad.

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