The Wilhelm Scream: #Walrusyes

Photo from Filmpulse.net
Photo from Filmpulse.net

Kevin Smith is a filmmaker who still makes movies for the fans instead of money. This is why his movies feel different. For those who are not familiar with him, he likes to tell stories. When I met him, he told me that he loves to tell stories and podcasts are the easiest way to do it for free. His latest movie, Tusk, was inspired by one of his podcasts. During the podcast, he finds a fake ad looking to hire someone to help an old man with house work. The man offered a free stay for life as long as they dressed as a walrus. Kevin Smith spent the podcast making up situations for it. Then he asked fans if he should make a movie out of it via hashtag #walrusyes or #walrusno.

There was an overwhelming amount of support from his fans to make the movie. With little funding and a short shooting schedule, he managed to crank out the movie with stars like Justin Long, Michael Parks, and Johnny Depp starring in the movie. The story did change a little, however. His movie version is about a podcaster who looks to make fun of “weird” people as a career. He finds an old man in Canada who has stories to tell about when he was in Pearl Harbor. The old man had his own agenda. The old man abducts him and tries to surgically make him into a walrus.

Since Smith had a small budget, he had a very limited marketing campaign. He took to social media to get the word out and asked fans to tweet #walrusyes. At his premier at the Toronto International Film Festival, Kevin Smith received a standing ovation. It seemed like he had finally managed to find support from the film community instead of getting criticized like he always does. His last step was to ask fans to go the midnight release of the movie and take a picture of their tickets stubs with the hashtag #walrusyes. He said that he would put those fan’s Twitter handles in the Blu-ray credits.

As with any other Kevin Smith movie, he has a lot of critics calling him a failure. Except this time, the movie was also a box office disaster. The movie made just shy of one million dollars opening weekend. He had such great support from fans and a seal of approval from the film community, so what happened? Some blame it on the lack of marketing, while most critics blame it on the movie being terrible. The truth is that Smith is not afraid to cross the line when he makes his movies. In the past he has pushed the line with politics, religion, and sex in his AFI FEST 2007 Presented By Audi: Portrait Sessions - Day 2movies. This has gained him a bad reputation among some people. His movies get protested all the time. While Tusk had no political statement to make, it is unlike any other movie. It is a horror comedy with an unconventional plot twist. The movie was a horror movie that had a lot of dark humor. Most movies recycle the same ideas over and over again, but not Smith. I feel that critics do not like that he strayed from the Hollywood business model. Because of the small marketing campaign and bad reputation, it is easy to see why the movie did poorly.

When you take a step back, you can see that older critics were the ones providing bad reviews while newer/younger critics like Joblow.com and IGN.com gave positive reviews. If people really gave the movie a chance, they would see what a creative movie it is. It is a fresh new story that Hollywood has not overused. Tusk is one of those movies that leaves you thinking after it is over. It is definitely a movie you have to go see twice so that it can sink in. The whole movie is an experience. The chemistry between the actors is great and makes for a fun movie. It is surprisingly funny considering it is a horror movie. This movie should serve as an example as to why you should not judge a book by its cover. Smith decided not to make a political statement and made a movie for his fans, yet he got the same amount of hate he did when he was making statements. Personally I don’t like Johnny Depp, but this movie was great. At its core, Tusk is about treating others with respect and not taking advantage of people. Do yourself a favor and go see this movie. It supports the idea that movies are made for the people and not for the money. On the most basic level just go see the movie for a great time. As Ferris Bueller once said, “Thank you for stopping by. I appreciate your concern for my well-being. Have a nice day!”

— Miguel Gonzalez, Film Blogger

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