Tusk (2014 film)

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a silhouette of a house on a precarious ledge in front of an exaggeratedly huge full moon. Two tusks are sticking out from the bottom of the ledge, giving the whole scene the loose appearance of a walrus’s face
Theatrical release poster
Directed byKevin Smith
Written byKevin Smith
Produced by
CinematographyJames Laxton
Edited byKevin Smith
Music byChristopher Drake
Distributed byA24
Release dates
  • September 6, 2014 (2014-09-06) (TIFF)
  • September 19, 2014 (2014-09-19) (United States)
Running time
101 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$3 million
Box office$1.9 million[1]

Tusk is a 2014 American horror comedy film written and directed by Kevin Smith, based on a story from his SModcast podcast. The film stars Michael Parks, Johnny Depp, Justin Long, Haley Joel Osment, and Genesis Rodriguez. The film is the first in Smith's planned True North trilogy, followed by Yoga Hosers (2016).[2][3]

The film deals with an arrogant podcaster (Long) who travels to Canada for an interview, and in the process meets an eccentric retired sailor (Parks) with dark plans related to his obsession with a walrus named Mr. Tusk.

Tusk had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, before it was released on September 19, 2014, by A24 and it received mixed reviews, with praise given to its atmosphere and production values but criticism for its inconsistent tone. The film was Smith's first major wide release since Cop Out (2010). However, some sources note that the divide amongst viewers and critics lends to a sort of cult status among some circles online.[4][5]


Best friends Wallace Bryton and Teddy Craft host the popular podcast The Not-See Party, where they find and mock humiliating viral videos. Wallace flies to Canada to interview the Kill Bill Kid, an Internet celebrity famous for severing his leg with a katana. Upon arriving in Manitoba, he is surprised to learn that the Kill Bill Kid died by suicide. Upset that he flew to Canada for nothing, he decides to find another person to interview. He finds a handbill from someone offering a room in his home for free and the guarantee of hearing interesting stories. Intrigued, he arrives at the mansion of Howard Howe, a retired seaman in a wheelchair. Howard tells the story of how a walrus, whom he named "Mr. Tusk", rescued him after a shipwreck. Wallace passes out from the secobarbital laced in the tea Howard made for him. The next morning, Wallace wakes up to find himself strapped into a wheelchair and his left leg amputated. Howard reveals that he can still walk and lays out his plans: He plans to fit Wallace into a perfectly constructed walrus costume in an attempt to re-create Mr. Tusk. After Wallace sends a voicemail to his girlfriend, Ally, and Teddy, Howard knocks him unconscious.

Now aware that Wallace is in danger, Ally and Teddy fly to Canada. Back at the mansion, Howard continues to mutilate and alter Wallace, to whom he tells his backstory: a Duplessis orphan, he was physically and sexually abused for five years by the clergy who fostered him. He sews Wallace into a walrus costume made of human skin, complete with tusks made from the tibia bones from Wallace's severed legs. A local detective puts Ally and Teddy in touch with Guy LaPointe, a former Sûreté du Québec inspector who has been hunting Howard for years. In a local burger joint, LaPointe reveals that Howard, nicknamed "the First Wife", has been kidnapping and murdering people for years; he believes Wallace may still be alive, but not as they remember him.

Howard conditions Wallace to think and act like a walrus. Howard reveals that, shortly before being rescued, he had killed and eaten Mr. Tusk. Overcome with guilt, he has spent the last 15 years turning his victims into his beloved savior in an attempt to relive their last day and give Mr. Tusk another chance at survival. With Howard dressed in his own homemade pelt, the two become engaged in a fight that ends with Wallace impaling Howard on his tusks; Howard dies but is satisfied to have fulfilled his life's mission at last. LaPointe, Ally, and Teddy enter the enclave as Wallace bellows victoriously, much to their horror. One year later, Wallace, still sewn into the pelt, lives in a wildlife sanctuary. Ally and Teddy visit him and feed him a mackerel. In a flashback, Ally tells Wallace that her weeping grandfather told her that crying separates humans from animals. Ally tells Wallace she still loves him before walking off, crying. Tears run down Wallace's face as he bellows, implying that the human part of Wallace may not be completely gone.

In a brief post-credits scene, LaPointe is seen clutching his stomach in gastrointestinal distress, berating himself for having eaten a second burger earlier.


Additional cast members include Harley Morenstein as a border agent and Ralph Garman as a detective. Smith and Depp's daughters Harley Quinn Smith and Lily-Rose Depp portray teenage convenience store clerks, who would later be featured as the leads of Yoga Hosers. Jennifer Schwalbach Smith, Smith's wife, also makes an appearance as a waitress at Gimli Slider. Doug Banks plays the Kill Bill Kid, a parody of the Star Wars Kid viral video. Zak Knutson has an uncredited appearance as Ernest Hemingway.


The idea for the film came during the recording of SModcast 259 The Walrus and The Carpenter.[6] In the episode, Smith with his longtime friend and producer Scott Mosier discussed an article featuring a Gumtree ad where a homeowner was offering a living situation free of charge, if the lodger agrees to dress as a walrus. The discussion went on from there, resulting in almost an hour of the episode being spent on reconstructing and telling a hypothetical story based on the ad. Smith then told his Twitter followers to tweet "#WalrusYes" if they wanted to see their hypothetical turned into a film, or "#WalrusNo" if they did not. A vast majority of Smith's following agreed that the film should be made.[7] The post on Gumtree was in fact a prank post by noted Brighton poet and prankster Chris Parkinson, who upon hearing of the planned film said he was a big fan of Smith and that he would love to be involved.[8] Smith eventually hired Parkinson as an associate producer in November.[9] During the final fight between Wallace and Howard, the Fleetwood Mac song that shares its name with the title is played.

Smith wrote the 80-page screenplay while waiting for Bob Weinstein's approval of his Clerks III submission package. It was originally titled The Walrus & the Carpenter, but he changed it into a single-word title, saying he "knew what a movie about a walrus had to be called." The film is set in Bifrost, Manitoba.[10] The movie was originally going to be produced by Blumhouse, but due to Smith's expedited timeline for filming the two amicably parted ways.[11] Tusk was eventually financed by Demarest Films.[12] Smith had planned on premiering the film at Sundance 2014, but this was later changed to allow more time for the score to be completed.[10]

Smith was excited about making Tusk, saying "I wanted to right what I felt was the only wrong of Red State by scripting something with no religious or sexual politics that could grow up to be a weird little movie and not an indie film call-to-arms or a frustrated self-distribution manifesto. I just wanted to showcase Michael Parks in a fucked up story, where he could recite some Lewis Carroll and 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner' to some poor motherfucker sewn into a realistic walrus costume."[13] Unlike Smith's previous film Red State, Tusk had a conventional theater release, with distribution handled by A24.[14]


The project began pre-production in September 2013.[15] Principal photography began on November 4, 2013,[7] and wrapped on November 22, 2013.[16] The starting date was delayed from September to October then to November due to the filming location moving from Canada to North Carolina.[17] An additional two days of filming occurred in Los Angeles for scenes involving Depp's character Guy LaPointe.[10] Smith originally considered Quentin Tarantino to play LaPointe after seeing his appearance in Django Unchained but Tarantino said he had no interest in acting at the moment.[18]


Tusk on the marquee of the Vista Theatre

Tusk had its world premiere on September 6, 2014, at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival, where it was screened as part of Midnight Madness.[19] It was named the first runner-up to the Midnight Madness People's Choice Award.[20] It was screened in Los Angeles at the Vista Theatre on September 16, 2014,[21] before its wide theatrical release on September 19.[22]

Box office

The film was released on September 19, 2014, and was declared a box office bomb,[23][24][25] earning only $846,831 from over 602 screens during its opening weekend, debuting in fourteenth place at the box office.[26] At the end of its run, on November 13, the film had grossed $1,826,705 in the domestic box office and $21,612 overseas for a worldwide total of $1,848,317.[27]

Critical reception

Tusk was met with mixed reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a rating of 45%, based on 132 reviews, with an average rating of 5.6/10. The site's summary reads, "Tusk is pleasantly ridiculous and charmingly self-deprecating, but that isn't enough to compensate for its thin, overstretched story."[28] The Guardian rated the movie 4 out of 5 stars, complimenting Smith as returning to his “snarky best“.[29] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 55 out of 100, based on 33 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[30]

In his review for The Seattle Times, Erik Lundegaard gave the film zero out of four stars, stating, "Tusk, which is based on one of Smith's own podcasts, is the most disgusting and pointless movie I've seen. Emphasis on pointless. I spent half the movie sick to my stomach."[31] William Bibbiani, writing for CraveOnline, criticized the film's failed humor and excessive runtime and said that the film "killed irony", awarding it two out of ten stars,[32] while Glenn Dunks of Junkee.com gave the film an F and called it the worst movie of 2014.[33]

Conversely, Chris Bumbray of JoBlo.com had a positive reaction, calling Tusk "a major return to form for Smith, and an exciting new chapter in a career that now feels totally reinvigorated."[34] Roth Cornet from IGN gave the film eight out of ten and stated "Funny, strange, disquieting, and occasionally gory, Tusk is Kevin Smith at his best."[35] Richard Roeper also gave Tusk a positive review, writing, "I'm recommending Kevin Smith's uniquely twisted 'Tusk', but there's a part of me that wishes I could un-see it. Over the last 15 years I've seen thousands of movies, and I can count on one hand the number of times I've actually closed my eyes during a screening because I needed a quick three-second break."[36] Clint O'Connor of The Plain Dealer noted that while Tusk skillfully combines various genres, the story would be better presented as a short film. According to O'Connor, the character of Guy Lapointe was an homage to a famous Canadian hockey player.[37]

Home media

Tusk was released via DVD and Blu-ray on December 30, 2014.[38] Special features on both formats include an audio commentary by Smith, deleted scenes, the original podcast, and two featurettes.

Spin-offs and possible Sequel

Smith revealed before the release of Tusk that he had written a spin-off film called Yoga Hosers, which would feature the cast from Tusk.[39] On August 19, 2014, Borys Kit from The Hollywood Reporter revealed further details about the film. Yoga Hosers will be an action-adventure film and the second in the True North trilogy.[3] As well as the rest of the entire cast of Tusk (except Michael Parks, who died in May 2017),[40] the film will star Johnny Depp's daughter, Lily-Rose, and Smith's daughter, Harley Quinn.[3] Tony Hale, Natasha Lyonne, Austin Butler, Adam Brody, Tyler Posey, and Jason Mewes have also been cast.

The third installment of Smith's True North trilogy is to be titled Moose Jaws, which Smith says is basically "Jaws with a moose".[3] Starstream Entertainment will finance and produce the film, while XYZ Films will sell the foreign rights at the Toronto Film Festival.[3]

Smith also mentioned an idea for a "Tusk 2", where somehow Wallace would turn himself back into a human and become the new villain.[41]

See Also


  1. ^ "Tusk (2014)". The Numbers. Retrieved October 27, 2015.
  2. ^ "Is Kevin Smith's Box-Office Disaster, 'Tusk,' the End of His Filmmaking Career or a Much-Needed Wake-Up Call?". Pajiba. Retrieved October 12, 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d e Kit, Borys (August 19, 2014). "Kevin Smith and Johnny Depp Team for Action-Adventure 'Yoga Hosers' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 19, 2014.
  4. ^ Screen rant https://screenrant.com/kevin-smith-tusk-2-movie-sequel-good-idea-reason/. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ Slashfilm https://www.slashfilm.com/534091/kevin-smith-clerks-3-news/. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ "The Walrus and The Carpenter". SModcast. June 25, 2013. Archived from the original on July 1, 2014. Retrieved July 9, 2014.
  7. ^ a b Smith, Kevin (November 4, 2013). "Tusk starts shooting today!". silentbobspeaks.com. Retrieved July 9, 2014.
  8. ^ James, Ben (August 5, 2013). "I am the walrus: Brighton prankster behind bizarre Gumtree ad to be turned into Hollywood film". The Argus. Retrieved July 30, 2014.
  9. ^ Johnson, Scott (November 15, 2013). "Kevin Smith Makes A Producer Out Of Man Who Wrote Ad That Inspired Tusk". ComicBook.com. Retrieved July 9, 2014.
  10. ^ a b c Smith, Kevin (December 30, 2013). "Update!!! Helena Handbag: The SMusical". silentbobspeaks.com. Retrieved July 9, 2014.
  11. ^ Smith, Kevin (October 1, 2013). "Kevin Smith Reveals His Craziest Movie Pitch Ever (Guest Column)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 9, 2014.
  12. ^ Smith, Kevin (September 10, 2013). "Kevin Smith on Why Quentin Tarantino Said No to 'Tusk' (Guest Column)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 9, 2014.
  13. ^ Smith, Kevin (July 25, 2013). "The roots of Tusk (so far)". silentbobspeaks.com. Retrieved July 9, 2014.
  14. ^ Sneider, Jeff (December 10, 2013). "Kevin Smith's 'Tusk' to Hit Theaters Fall 2014 Via A24, Demarest Films". The Wrap. Retrieved July 9, 2014.
  15. ^ Lussier, Germain (September 9, 2013). "evin Smith Wrote A Horror Movie Called 'Tusk;' Offers 'Clerks III' Info [Updated]". Slash Film. Retrieved July 24, 2013.
  16. ^ "Is man, indeed, a walrus at heart?". Twitter. November 17, 2013. Retrieved July 9, 2014.
  17. ^ Smith, Kevin (September 10, 2013). "Kevin Smith on Why Quentin Tarantino Said No to 'Tusk' (Guest Column), page 3". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 9, 2014.
  18. ^ Smith, Kevin. "Kevin Smith on Why Quentin Tarantino Said No to 'Tusk' (Guest Column)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 8, 2014.
  19. ^ Vlessing, Etan (July 29, 2014). "Toronto: Kevin Smith's 'Tusk' to Get World Premiere". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 30, 2014.
  20. ^ Hassan, Genevieve (September 14, 2014). "Imitation Game wins Toronto top prize". BBC News. Retrieved September 15, 2014.
  21. ^ Costello, Quinn (September 18, 2014). "'Tusk' Premiere: Kevin Smith Reveals How Weed, Twitter and a Web Ad Inspired His Off-the-Wall Movie". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 21, 2019.
  22. ^ "Kevin Smith's Tusk Gets September Release Date". ComingSoon.net. July 17, 2014. Retrieved July 17, 2014.
  23. ^ "Box Office: 'Maze Runner' Races To $32.5M Weekend, Kevin Smith's 'Tusk' Bombs". Forbes. September 21, 2014. Retrieved October 12, 2014.
  24. ^ "Weekend Box Office: The Maze Runner earns a sequel, Tusk flops". Retrieved October 12, 2014.
  25. ^ "Box office report: 'Maze Runner' reaps $32.5 million in a successful debut". EW.com. Retrieved October 12, 2014.
  26. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for September 19–21, 2014". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. September 22, 2014. Retrieved January 7, 2015.
  27. ^ "Weekend Report: 'Maze Runner' Franchise Off to Strong Start". Retrieved October 12, 2014.
  28. ^ "Tusk (2014)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved March 22, 2020.
  29. ^ Barnes, Henry (September 11, 2014). "Tusk review: Kevin Smith seals his comeback with walrus horror show". The Guardian. Retrieved June 7, 2018.
  30. ^ "Tusk Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved October 12, 2014.
  31. ^ Lundegaard, Erik (September 18, 2014). "'Tusk': Kevin Smith's pointless house of walrus horrors". The Seattle Times. Retrieved September 19, 2014.
  32. ^ Bibbiani, William (September 19, 2014). "'Tusk' Review: Tsk-Tsk". CraveOnline. Retrieved September 19, 2014.
  33. ^ Dunks, Glenn (October 13, 2014). "Kevin Smith's 'Tusk' Just Might Be The Worst Movie Of The Year". Junkee.com. Retrieved October 14, 2014.
  34. ^ Bumbray, Chris (September 6, 2014). "Review: Tusk (TIFF 2014) + Video Review! – Movie News". JoBlo.com. Retrieved September 19, 2014.
  35. ^ Cornet, Roth (September 18, 2014). "Tusk review – I am he as you are he as you are me". IGN. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
  36. ^ Roeper, Richard. "'Tusk': Kevin Smith's uniquely twisted curiosity cuts deep". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved October 12, 2014.
  37. ^ O'Connor, Clint (September 17, 2014). "'Tusk': Kevin Smith's horror movie goes 'Full Walrus' (review)". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved January 29, 2016.
  38. ^ "Tusk Blu-ray". Blu-ray.com. Retrieved November 10, 2014.
  39. ^ "Kevin Smith confirms Tusk spin-off". The Belfast Telegraph. July 7, 2014. Retrieved July 9, 2014.
  40. ^ Yoga Hosers
  41. ^ "Kevin Smith's Tusk 2: Why The Director's Idea Is The Sequel We Need". ScreenRant. August 18, 2020. Retrieved February 28, 2022.

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