Tusk: Is the 2014 Horror Movie Based on Real Life?

‘Tusk’ centers on Wallace, an arrogant podcaster who travels to Canada for an interview but meets a strange man named Howe instead. Wallace’s intrigue becomes his doom when he discovers that the recluse wants to alter him physically in the most disturbing way. He learns that Howe plans to turn him into a walrus, but his loved ones are already on the move to save him. The 2014 horror comedy movie is helmed by Kevin Smith, and if you’re curious to know whether it is inspired by true events, let’s explore the stories behind ‘Tusk.’

Tusk is a Fictional Story

No, Tusk is not a true story, and the entirely fictional plot junctures are written by Kevin Smith himself. It is inspired by a conversation between Kevin and his co-host Scott Mosier on their podcast titled ‘SModcast,’ specifically episode 259, i.e., ‘The Walrus and The Carpenter.’ During their discussion, Scott narrated a story about a man who was offering free rent to anyone willing to dress up as a walrus, and the filmmaker just built on the bizarre idea. Even though the advertisement was false and didn’t exist, it gave Kevin a Frankenstein-like plot that he could develop a horror story around.

As reports suggest, the hoax ad was created by a writer named Chris Parkinson from Brighton, England, and he had responses from over 400 people who were interested in the whole ordeal. However, Michael Parks’ character Howard Howe, who is a notorious killer, resembles Ed Gein, a serial killer who had a macabre hobby of creating human skin suits and disfiguring his victims. The movie utilizes Canada as its backdrop, a country that has a reputation for being polite and friendly.

In the film, Wallace is a foreigner and beholds the same perspective about the place. Therefore, ‘Tusk’ uses a common horror trope of a foreigner being trapped and tortured in an unknown land. In an interview with AskMen, Kevin spoke about how he approached Justin Long with the script. He said, “I hit him up with a script, and his agent was like, don’t do this. He was like, ‘Dude, my agent told me, You’re already the Apple guy, don’t be the walrus guy as well.’ He said he was scared of it, but he loved it.”

Kevin added, “He had one thing that he wanted to change: the first draft of the script; where Wallace was more of a sexual adventurer.” He was also worried that the movie won’t be well-received by the audience since it’s technically not a horror film but more “horrifying” because it includes a monstrous creature. In addition to that, Justin believed it was a risky career move, but later, he was sold on the idea. The filmmakers have kept an open-ended climax where there’s still a possibility of a sequel, and it’s confirmed that Kevin is indeed working toward it.

Most of the film’s budget was seemingly spent on acquiring the rights to an eponymous song by Fleetwood Mac. There is also a reference to the Gumtree website as Gregory Gumtree, and it’s the same site where Kevin first came across the hoax advertisement. He also took inspiration from his childhood habits, such as the scene where Justin Long turns away the face of the doll while peeing, which is something that Kevin was accustomed to as a child.

It also has a lot of pop culture callbacks, such as the line used to describe a great white shark, which is the exact one that Quint uses in the original ‘Jaws‘ movie. Even the Gimli Slider restaurant’s name is inspired by the Gimli Glider (an Air Canada plane) that was forced into an emergency landing, without power, at the Gimli Industrial Park Airport.

Similarly, there are multiple Easter eggs and meta references in the movie. ‘The Not-See Party’ podcast in the movie, which is a wordplay for the Nazi Party, is an attempt to add a layer of dark humor, which becomes a running joke in the film. The cinematic piece explores themes of obsession, identity, and the boundaries of humanity. Even though it is not a true story, ‘Tusk’ possesses several elements inspired by reality and fiction, which makes it a great addition to the horror genre.

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