19 September 2014

Tusk: What Horror Needs

Kevin Smith has found yet another niche, and this time it’s B-horror-comedy flicks.

The slacker master of the 1990s has never been one to censor himself, whether his array of Jersey-born characters are stink-palming Michael Rooker, discussing the disadvantages of going ass-to-mouth, or sucking 37 dicks (not necessarily in a row). But if you were to have told me during the blossoming years of the aughties that the same man responsible for Chasing Amy would turn the kid from Waiting… into a twisted, man-made walrus… actually, I probably would’ve believed it.

Kevin Smith is a force to be reckoned with. It doesn’t matter whether you dig his flicks or not, because he is always going to be here with something outrageous, be that a good or a bad thing. While 1990s Smith brought us raunchy slacker comedies and the early ’00s saw K-Smizzle going total meta, with the you-love-it-or-you-hate-it Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, 2014 shows us a darker, more disturbing side of the Clerks kid. And “you love it or you hate it” can be used to describe basically all of Kevin Smith’s films to date. He is an acquired taste, like a rich New Jersey craft beer. Any beer aficionado will know that craft beers either fly or they crash — there is rarely an in-between. That’s Smith for ya.

The horror film genre has been in desperate need of resuscitation for quite some time now, and most directors have chosen to bring horror back to life by incorporating a bit of humor and a lot of gore, and you know what? It’s working. Horror is breathing with a steady heartbeat once again. The past decade has seen movies like Slither, Shaun of the Dead, Drag Me to Hell, Trick r Treat, and The Cabin in the Woods, all of which were divine horror flicks with the perfect amount of humor mixed in (and the ideal dose of gore and blood and flesh and all of those disgusting things us horror fans so vehemently crave). Tusk shows us all of that and a little bit more.

Tusk has heart. Tusk has a soul. Tusk has wacky fucking insane characters, genuinely smart and witty dialogue, pure K-Smizzle-brand dick and fart jokes that are actually hilarious, and wonderful acting by a wonderful cast. Add this to the obvious horror elements and we are given an awesome nod to classic B-horror, with a script that doesn’t read nearly as awful as your average B-horror flick. And unlike most 1980s B-horror movies, Tusk gets pretty fucking emotional. It gets sad, man. It gets brutal. It’s a carnival of emotions. And it just might be an instant classic.

I know I’m throwing around all the typical buzz terms, like “instant classic” and “acquired taste” and the like, but so what? Modern horror needs more buzz. And all of these pathetic attempts at reviving horror via another exorcism/possession flick and Paranormal Activity 12 and a fucking Conjuring spinoff are half-assed at best and fatally embarrassing at worst. So many writers and directors are attempting to convince the general public to take horror seriously, but that’s not the point of horror. We’re fine with being ignored by the Academy. Or, at least, we should be. Instead of prancing about trying to make a horror film the old white dudes who control the Oscars will maybe offer a bored glance, horror directors need to go balls-out I-don’t-give-a-fuck, raunchy, dirty, gruesome, vomit-inducing, horrible, incredible, disturbingly awesome all while managing to thrill us, the horror fanatics, the people who love this shit, who eat this shit with our grimy hands and beg for seconds. We will pay to see your movie. We will talk about it for years. Entertain us and we will empty our wallets into your bare hands, eagerly purchasing the four-disc blu-ray collector’s edition and the entire line of action figures.

And that’s exactly what Kevin Smith has managed to do. He has given us an eerily sadistic film that sates our need for gore perfectly without going overboard, makes us laugh hysterically and cringe horrifically, and might even bring a tear to our eyes. Tusk is another small step for horror, for good horror and for bad horror, because, you see, that’s the thing about horror — sometimes it’s so goddamned bad that it’s good. And not “bad” in the way that the last twenty-something exorcism movies have been, but bad in a beautifully nostalgic way that takes us back to a time when horror was just pure fucking grotesque fun.

Like I said before… Tusk is that and a whole lot more. It’s a unique and exquisite film and a fabulous addition to the long list of horror cult classics. Thank you, Kevin Smith. Please give us more.