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Let me get right to the point: Kevin Smith’s Tusk is the worst movie I have ever seen. At least the worst one made by an experienced filmmaker using a paid professional crew and actors. But really, it’s even worse than a lot of those grade-Z dogs that you don’t expect anything from.

Lord knows I wasn’t expecting much from Smith. It’s been a long time since his last good film, Dogma; after Clerks II, Cop Out and Zack and Miri Make a Porno, I’m astonished he was able to raise money for another movie. But relentless self-publicizing can pay off, and this is the proof.

If you’re a fan of Smith (and who the hell else would want to see this?) you doubtless already know the premise: at a rural mansion in ManItoba, an obnoxious podcaster (Justin Long) is imprisoned by a loony (Michael Parks) who surgically transforms him into a walrus.

The plot was extemporized during one of Smith’s podcasts, and not much more thought seems to have gone into it. He’s calling it a horror comedy, but don’t expect parody or satire. It’s a movie with some horror stuff here, some comedy there, and all of it really bad.

The few gross-out sequences are surrounded by so much tedious dialogue that they have little impact (which admittedly is just as well). If Smith put any actual thought into this mess, it was to exploit his two casting coups by letting those actors ham it up to their hearts’ content. He clearly modeled the loony Howard Howe character after one of Christoph Waltz’s Quentin Tarantino roles. But Smith can’t write that kind of juicy dialogue, and it’s embarrassing watching Parks (in a terrible wig) try to make anything out of these endlessly pretentious lines.

Even worse is an uncredited Johnny Depp, who destroys the film’s momentum with a ludicrous and pointless impersonation of a Montreal cop in a scene that seems to go on forever.

Fans of this film (I’m astonished to find that there are any) claim that it’s a subtle form of parody, that Smith is making fun of viewers’ expectations and pre-conceptions (especially about Canada.) Bullshit. Aside from the horror effects, it’s as lazy and slipshod as anything I’ve ever seen served up to a paying audience.

Watch the trailer for Tusk

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