The sensation of feeling that you know better than an artist, in regards to their own art, is a frustrating one, mainly because it's so hard to shake. No matter how hard you try to convince yourself that this is their project, and that they're free to mould it as they see fit, there always remains that notion that you've spotted where they've gone wrong and you wish you could have fixed the relevant issues. The fact that Kevin Smith probably understood that he was constructing a film far superior to the one he'd eventually conclude upon, as Tusk chews its way through a variety of styles and genres, provides mere slight relief. His horror comedy is subversively abrasive, save a few indulgently obnoxious elements, mainly concerning character and dialogue (his staples, alas), until it descends into a crass and uncomfortably asinine attempt to satisfy base fanboy urges. Smith is seemingly aware of this narrative gambit, effectively destroying the film he has crafted so far, as he entertains the self-conscious quirks in the film's latter half to enervating ends, stressing an artistic gravitas in them that doesn't exist. Yet, it's clear where such insistent arrogance was born, in that Tusk's first half is highly promising. In particular, Smith devises a specific character who truly befits his verbosity as a writer, and an actor - Michael Parks - who can interpret the wannabe seriousness of Smith's scenario with ease and naturalism. Parks is so good that Tusk's swift slide into inanity seems to debase him, and the excellent work he's now basically wasted. But this debasement is Smith's agenda, and his prerogative in the creation of his art. The first half of Tusk is, regrettably, not ours to mould as we please into something of equal quality. It's just the first half of a whole movie, and not a very good one, in the end.