Tusk (2014)

Like the creature it stitches together from monster movies and online inanity, Kevin Smith’s Tusk is very much a film of two halves. In its first section, as raconteur and adventurer Howard Howe (Michael Parks) carefully lays and baits a trap in darkest Manitoba for narcissistic, two-timing celebrity podcaster Wallace Bryton (Justin Long), cruel humour and tension build together towards a surrealistic Human Walruspede.

It is at this point that a new character, Quebecois ex-police detective Guy Lapointe, enters the frame, allowing an uncredited, near unrecognisable Johnny Depp to go full Inspector Clouseau in an over-indulged and terribly misjudged performance. A scene (in flashback) where Howe and Lapointe meet and try to outdo one another in outrageous accents and character business is a definite (jaw-dropping) low point. Tusk‘s inherent absurdity would much better have been played straight and subtle all the way through to the end, rather than covered over with the broadest layers of blubbery, fish-in-a-barrel slapstick. Still, really enjoyed the first half, before it went into the depp-end…

Anton Bitel