Horns is directed by Alexandre Aja who we last saw deliver Piranha 3D to the screen in 2010 although he probably best known for The Hills Have Eyes (2006). The film is based on a novel written by Joe Hill and was adapted for the big screen by Keith Bunin and is his first feature. Here’s an interesting fact for you – the film shares some of the same producers as The Wolf of Wall Street (2014). Go figure.
The film focuses on the character of Ig Perrish (Daniel Radcliffe) who is the chief suspect in the murder of his girlfriend Mirren played by Juno Temple. The local population appear to have already convicted him while the police are determined to see him in court. The morning after a rash comment to a news reporter about finding the devil who killed the love of his life he awakens to find little horns sprouting from his head. Ig discovers a strange new ability to get people to be totally open with him and influence their behaviour. He now seizes the opportunity to find the truth about what happened that night …
The first thing that stands about Horns is how much fun it is. There is a wonderful dark humour that pervades the first two acts of the film in particular as Ig gets to grips with his new ‘superpowers’. The brutal honesty that springs forth as parents express their frustration with their children, workers with their jobs had me giggling. This refreshing take on good and evil reminded me in some ways of Dogma (1999) although I don’t think Horns is as hard hitting. The humour is cleverly turned on its head in a touching scene where Ig’s parents reveal their true thoughts about his role in Merrin’s death.
I was impressed by the way the film was able to deftly switch from one genre to another without it feeling jarring. It starts life as a Gone Girl (2014) did he / didn’t he mystery before becoming a supernatural story, then its a detective story and ends up as a love story. I know this hasn’t been to everyone’s taste but I enjoyed the Director’s commitment to the idea.
I’ve never been a fan of the work of Daniel Radcliffe but ditching the English accent (most of the time) allowed me to forget he was Harry Potter for a couple of hours. I don’t think he pulled off the hard drinking depressed act too well despite his alleged real life experience but he carries the humour effortlessly. The best performance is delivered by Juno Temple who on the one hand delivers during the dream sequences as the girl of Ig’s dreams then flicks a switch to become the down-to-earth local girl during the flash backs.
I didn’t like the final ten minutes of the film as it finally pushed the devil character a little too far into the unbelievable and the finale is too predictable and neatly wrapped up. It’s a little bit Gladiator (2000) and if you see Horns you should be able to figure out what I mean. It’s unfortunate to be pulled out of a film so late in the day as I am much more forgiving of a poor opening.
Overall I had a really good time watching this movie and don’t care that it has bombed at the UK box office. What the hell do film audiences and critics know anyhow? If dark humour is your thing check it out if it’s still playing near you.