“Horns” Review

The Devil In Me

A Film Review by Akash Singh

NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!

Horns by all accounts is an odd film and not just because it’s a film that is seemingly about Daniel Radcliffe growing actual horns. Seemingly a gory horror film, Horns is oddly hilarious throughout its two hour running time, sprinkled with moments of intermittent gore sprinkled throughout. That’s not to say there aren’t R-rating worthy moments of blood horror in the film, there certainly are. But what’s most admirable is how often the film strives to be faithful to the genre gore while on occasion actually transcending the genre entirely and becoming something much, much more than that.  It doesn’t always succeed in those efforts yet it leaves something to be admired in how it refuses to be just a simple run-of-the-mill gore film. Horns ultimately is so much fun in how committed it is to its wild and simultaneously preposterous narrative that it’s a blast.

The plot follows a man by the name of Ig Perrish, who is the immediate suspect of the rape and murder of his girlfriend, Merrin out of the simple reality that he is the boyfriend. He prays secretly that the Devil punish whomever was the murderer and when he wakes the next morning, he realizes that he has grown horns. The narrative in this regards is unique and I give credit to the film that it so fastidiously sticks to its guns on the plot and treats it just as seriously as it needs to be treated. Horns doesn’t take itself too seriously, it knows when it’s over-the-top and largely acknowledges it with the appropriate gore and humor. Perhaps the most inventive twist of the narrative that provides the most intriguing social and meta commentary comes from the Devil Ig becoming a sort of magnet for people to be perfectly honest about their deepest, darkest desires. It’s a neat reversal of the confessional concept and by far the most intriguing concept in the film. The best scene, however, would have to go to the journalist sequence where they beat each other up just to snag an exclusive interview with the new, macabre superhero of sorts that’s come to town.

And a lot of it works because of how committed Radcliffe is to the role of Ig. It’s an absolutely fantastic performance and leaves no doubt to how versatile he’s becoming. It’s a dark turn on the superhero origin story and Radcliffe owns every part to it. At no point does he really falter even when the film does, switching from gore to comedy to satire with aplomb. Juno Temple is amazing in this, imbuing a real humanity within Merrin that the audience can attach themselves to in spite of the tragedy that we know is just about to occur. The supporting cast is great here, their best moments arriving when they’re reveling in their darkest depths in front of the Devil Ig. Alejandra Aja’s direction here is a definite step up from his last venture, Piranha 3DD, which for some reason actually existed. Aja here does bring a keen eye to his camera, reveling in the initial horror Ig faces at the seemingly unholy powers he’s been given.

The Achilles’ heel that drags the movie down a couple of notches from being great is the severity in tonal imbalance that was for some reason never truly cleared out in the editing room. For one, there are moments of gore that are unnecessary and are seemingly thrown in for the random reminder that yes, this is a Halloween horror film. There’s nothing wrong with having multiple tones in a film, but at several moments throughout Horns, gore goes to comedy to satire and then back to gore without an underlying consistency. It’s jarring and unfortunately more often than not takes you out of the film just when you were getting settled into it. Thankfully it doesn’t happen fastidiously, but it happens enough times to make you a little irritated, even if you like the overall content. Perfectly timed for a Halloween release, Horns despite the tonal flaws is still a pretty good film that goes above and beyond the typical tropes of the horror genre. The performances are great (especially from Radcliffe and the awesome Juno Temple), Aja’s direction is assured, the cinematography is great, and the scene mentioned above with the journalists automatically gives this movie at least two out of the seven points I give it. If you want Halloween fare that isn’t, you know, Halloween fare, catch Horns. It’s worth a watch.

Good

7/10

Title: Horns

MPAA Rating: R

Director: Alexandre Aja

Produced by: Alexandre Aja, Riza Aziz, Joey McFarland, Cathy Schulman

Screenplay by: Keith Bunin

Based On: Horns by Joe Hill

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Max Minghella, Joe Anderson, Juno Temple, Kelli Garner, James Remar, Kathleen Quinlan, Heather Graham, David Morse

Music: Robin Coudert

Cinematography: Frederick Elmes

Editing: Baxter

Production Company: Red Granite Pictures, Mandalay Pictures

Distributed by: Dimension Films, RADiUS-TWC

Running Time: 120 minutes

Release Dates: September 6, 2013 (TIFF), October 6, 2014 (iTunes), October 31, 2014 (US)

Image Courtesy: Imp Awards

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