Directed by: Alexandre Aja
Written by: Keith Bunin, based on the novel by Joe Hills
Featuring: Daniel Radcliffe, Juno Temple, Joe Anderson, Max Minghella,
James Remar, Kathleen Quinlan, Heather Graham
Iggy seemingly has a great life, he’s with the love of his life Merrin and everything is going well. Then in one tumultuous night she splits from him, is found dead and Iggy is accused of the murder. Nobody except for his one true friend, Lee, believes him though and now he has to prove it on top of the enormous grief and guilt he feels. Then when Iggy starts growing horns out his forehead things take a turn for worse, or do they?
Horns is an ambitious story and you can link it to several other stories, Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes, King’s Needful Things and even the comic-book come TV show Preacher come to mind although more in spirit than directly related, the film-makers must be applauded from making something that is neither comic-book based, a sequel nor a remake, although the source novel, which is different to the film, was written by a comic-book author, so they didn’t stray too far of the tired path. The cliched murder mystery immediately knocks off a point with it’s frankly TV afternoon movie plotting and the so obvious killer sign-posted way before the conclusion, even with the huge red-herring mixed in and the teen romance sort of gave the film a not quite-sure-what-it-is tone.
Daniel Radcliffe as usual gives his best and certainly cannot be accused of playing safe with the type of films and roles he chooses. Without him you cannot help feeling the film would have been weaker. Most of the supporting cast is up to their roles although they are definitely overshadowed by Radcliffe with only the reliable towering David Morse going round for round with his diminutive co-star. Hilariously Heather Graham seems to turn up in a bit-part so you know she’s going to rock up later in the film.
The cinematography and setting caused me some problems with some scenes appearing to have be shot very obviously on a sound-stage which gave the whole proceedings and am-dram vibe, which if no sound stage was used is a huge failing. But the biggest problem overall as previously mentioned is the tonal mess Horns gets into, is it a religious black-comedy, a parody of horror and teen angst or just silly? The longer the story goes on the darker it gets the less funny anything is. Was there scares or laughs to be had – as a viewer I felt like a pin-ball firing off the buffers and pins and never settling down. As I’ve noted before the murder-mystery was simplistic and felt so tacked on I was only half caring about who murdered Radcliffe’s girlfriend, the real drive was the angst and raw emotions of Radcliffe’s Iggy. The very premise of his slow evolving from man to demon was promising and looked like fun but then the ball was fumbled and romance and murder-mystery got in the way, including some long pointless flashbacks on the romance which I could not figure out why we were seeing or how it drove the story forward.
Overall Horns has to be disappointing as a film, not for what is was but for what it could have been, nevertheless the makers have to be applauded for putting something different up there on the screen.