By Ezra Stead
Horns, USA / Canada, 2013
Directed by Alexandre Aja
The least interesting thing about Horns is its central plot, a standard murder mystery potboiler that finds Ig Perrish (Daniel Radcliffe) on a quest to prove his innocence in the brutal slaying of his longtime girlfriend, Merrin (Juno Temple). Where the film adaptation of Joe Hill’s novel really excels is in the memorable sequences along the road of Ig’s private investigation. Once he begins to grow the titular horns, everyone he encounters feels the irrepressible need to unburden themselves of their darkest secrets and most antisocial urges to him. He also finds that they will do whatever he tells them, or permits them, to do, and this often leads to hilariously bizarre results, including a massive anchorman fight, which I never thought I’d see again outside of the first two movies to do it.
The horns are mysterious and never fully explained. It is often unclear whether they are a manifestation of the evil of which Ig has become capable in his grief, rage, and overwhelming desire for revenge. The ways in which he uses his newfound powers are consistently entertaining, if not always highly original; in addition to the aforementioned anchor fight, there is also a pair of lovesick cops straight out of the always underrated Earth Girls Are Easy (coincidentally directed by Juno Temple’s father, Julien). Heather Graham is a highlight of the film in a glorified cameo that nicely satirizes the modern trend of instant, undeserved celebrity.
Director Alexandre Aja (High Tension, The Hills Have Eyes remake) shows some restraint over his signature brand of extreme violence until the third act, but even then much of it is very tongue-in-cheek. This is not always tonally the best approach when dealing with such a brutal subject, as the circumstances of the central murder have some disturbing echoes of certain current events. For all its flaws in tone and narrative, though, at its best, Horns is a solidly compelling midnight movie anchored by a strong lead performance from Radcliffe, who hasn’t really strayed too far from his most famous role by playing another conflicted hero with magical powers and a dark past.
Horns is now available online, and will open in theaters on Halloween 2014.
Ezra Stead is the Head Editor for MoviesIDidn’tGet.com. Ezra is also a screenwriter, actor, filmmaker, rapper, and aspiring stand-up comic who has been previously published in print and online, as well as writing, directing and acting in numerous short films and two features. A Minneapolis native, Ezra currently lives in New York City.
For more information, please contact EzraStead@MoviesIDidntGet.com.