Tusk (2014)

Kevin-Smith-Reveals-Tusk-Poster

Director: Kevin Smith
Writer: Kevin Smith
Production Companies: Demarest Films, Phase 4 Films, SModcast Pictures
Stars: Justin Long, Michael Parks, Genesis Rodriguez, Haley Joel Osment
Genre: Horror / Comedy

What It’s About: A podcaster goes missing while out on an interview with an eccentric seafarer. His girlfriend and best friend team up with an ex-cop to search for him.

How I Watched It: Alone in my apartment. Evening.

Thoughts: First of all, let me just say that I have been anticipating this movie for some time. I’m a big fan of Kevin Smith, and after seeing Red State, I was especially excited to see another Kevin Smith movie starring Michael Parks. I was pretty amped to finally see it.

The general story (WITHOUT SPOILERS!):
Wallace (Long) is a podcaster, and a rude and crude one at that. He teams up with his co-host Teddy (Osment) to create The Not-See Party podcast. What a name. Anyway, Wallace takes it upon himself to go out into the world and collect stories from weird and eccentric people, and then broadcasts them on the show. His newest adventure is to go see a viral-video star in Canada, so he goes on his way.

The story with the viral-video kid doesn’t pan out, so Wallace quickly seeks a backup plan so that his trip wouldn’t be in vain. While in a bar restroom, he spots an ad from someone offering up free lodging for someone willing to do some household chores. The man claims to be an invalid in need of help, but he also apparently has tons of amazing stories to share–which would be another perk of the arrangement.

Wallace sees the opportunity and seizes it. He phones the fellow, Howard Howe (Parks), and plans to make the trip to his house. He gets there, and begins to hear the tales of so many of his adventures. Wallace is truly intrigued. But then…something starts to seem off…and before he knows it, he begins an adventure that he could never have imagined.

Wow. I knew some spoilers going into this film (it was nearly impossible to avoid them), but I still found it so shocking….and just….crazy. The special effects used in this movie looked SO GREAT. So real and visceral….while being completely out of the ordinary. But I’ll refrain from going further into that as to avoid spoilers. If you’d like to learn about the origin of this ridiculous plot line (some spoilers included), CLICK HERE.

Let’s talk about how hilarious this movie is. Anything from crude dude-humor to really subtle humor…to what I always think Kevin Smith does best–the situational humor. Some of the situations in this movie are so ridiculous…sure, they’re terrifying and weird…but they’re also fucking hilarious. Half the time, I didn’t know whether to cringe or laugh. That’s a difficult effect to achieve.

As far as acting goes, everyone nailed it on the head. Justin Long walks that line of being that guy you hate, and being that guy that you feel sorry for. I can’t even imagine how difficult of a role this was for him to play…for….**COUGH**…various reasons.  😉

Michael. Fucking. Parks. First of all, if you haven’t seen Red State, go watch it right fucking now.  I love that movie so much. I had seen Parks in several roles before that film…Kill Bill, Grindhouse, From Dusk Til Dawn, Twin Peaks…but man.  That role is the fucking tits.  This role is right up there with that one in my mind. Parks is one creepy mo-fo. Holy hell. Just the performance he delivers….incredible.

Later in the movie, Teddy and Wallace’s girlfriend Ally (Rodriguez) team up with an ex-cop named Guy Lapointe…and well…this might be a spoiler, because it was somewhat hidden from audiences….so SPOILER ALERT! Lapointe is played by none other than Johnny Depp. It’s fairly easy to tell that it’s him, even through his well-done makeup effects….so, you’d probably figure it out.  What a hilarious performance…drunken Quebec investigator. There’s a scene between him and Parks that is just hilarious, and is a testament to both of their acting abilities.

My Rating: Huzzah!
This movie is totally out there, but I love it. Definitely nothing else out there like this one, folks.

Where Can I Watch It?: This title is available digitally across several formats (Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, etc). The film will be released to DVD and Blu-Ray on December 30th.

Life After Beth (2014)

life-after-beth

Director: Jeff Baena
Writer: Jeff Baena
Production Companies: Abbolita Productions, American Zoetrope, Destro Films, Starstream Entertainment
Stars: Aubrey Plaza, Dane DeHaan, John C. Reilly, Molly Shannon, Cheryl Hines, Paul Reiser, Matthew Gray Gubler, Anna Kendrick
Genre: Comedy/Horror/Drama

What It’s About: Zach’s recently deceased girlfriend mysteriously returns from the dead…but she’s not quite what he remembered.

How I Watched It: Alone in my apartment. Evening.

Thoughts: We start out the film with Beth (Plaza) walking in the woods. She thinks she hears something, and looks back…then continues on.  Fade out.

Flash forward a few days, to Zach (DeHaan) in a supermarket purchasing napkins. They’re for Beth’s funeral.  Apparently she received a fatal snake bite out on her hike. The funeral is really very awkward, but we get introduced to nearly all of the key players here. This movie starts out in a very dramatic way, but seeing actors such as John C. Reilly, Molly Shannon and Cheryl Hines makes you rethink that.

One night, when Zach is going over to visit Beth’s parents (Reilly and Shannon), he can’t get anyone to answer the door. He goes around the house peaking into windows, trying to figure out what’s going on. Much to his surprise, he spots who appears to be Beth in one of the windows. Unable to believe his eyes, Zach busts into the house through a window and confronts them. There stands Beth. Looking just as beautiful as he remembered. However, she couldn’t remember a thing. She didn’t even remember that just before her alleged death, they had actually broken up. Beth has no recollection of what happened to her.

Instead of being completely weirded out by this, they all carry on like it never happened. Occasionally, Zach becomes concerned that maybe she’s becoming a zombie. Lots of things that Beth does now, are uncharacteristic of her usual self. For one, she wants to live in the attic (perhaps to be as far above ground as possible?). She breaks out into violent spurts…which can only be calmed by listening to smooth jazz. She bears un-human strength. Oh, and she’s slowly but surely rotting inside and out. I think Zach can start to worry now.

Aubrey Plaza’s performance as a zombie is…interesting. There were times when I found her really hilarious–a lot of those times being very reminiscent of her role as April Ludgate on Parks and Rec. Other times, she just seemed to…growl and act like either an animal, or insane child.

Whatevs.

Whatevs.

Eventually, we discover that Beth isn’t the only one of the local dead walking the earth. We get glimpses through the film of people who look pretty zombie-ish, but eventually long-lost relatives start returning home and everyone takes notice. It’s time to put an end to the madness…and thus begins a somewhat comedic apocalypse scenario: the living killing the living dead to reclaim the earth.

This movie is a VERY dark and subtle comedy. This isn’t your slapstick zombie comedy. I think that the supporting cast is what really sells this movie for me. John C. Reilly and Molly Shannon play perfectly concerned parents with a heavy dose of denial. There’s a scene toward the end when Beth is in full-zombie mode, that Shannon is actually feeding Beth her own fingers because she’s concerned about her being hungry.  XD

Zach’s family is pretty hilarious as well.  Cheryl Hines and Paul Reiser team up to play the unbelieving parents. Then we have Matthew Gray Gubler playing the older brother who has an unhealthy obsession with firearms. Gubler’s part was one of my favorites, even though he played the douche-tastic military wanna-be.  He did it well.

My Rating: Meh.

While I love dark comedies, this one had a hard time holding my interest. The star-studded cast adds some flavor, but ultimately doesn’t pay off as well as I would have hoped. I was sort of on the line about this movie. Part of me wants to say that I like it, but it didn’t quite tip my meter one way or the other.

How Can I Watch It?: Available on Amazon, iTunes, and Vudu.  I rented this from the local Family Video.