Movie Review: Horns

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A young man who is suspected of murdering his girlfriend grows horns on his head and develops some interesting abilities.

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Alexandra Aja, 2013

Ever since the murder of his girlfriend Merrin (Juno Temple), Ig (Daniel Radcliffe) has been a pariah in his small town. Hated by almost everyone, he finds solace at his family’s home. His lawyer and childhood friend Lee (Max Minghella) is working on proving Ig’s innocence, which is proving difficult, especially after a fire destroyed all the physical evidence. After a few days of being harassed everywhere he goes, Ig wishes he had the power to find and kill Merrin’s killer. The next morning he wakes up to discover he’s grown horns on his forehead overnight. While they’re obviously rather a shock to Ig, he realises to his surprise that nobody else seems to notice them at all. In fact, everyone around him seems to be oddly affected by him now, divulging their secrets and acting on their desires. Ig uses his newfound abilities to seek out Merrin’s murderer and take his revenge.

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The premise of Horns offers its director Alexandre Aja the opportunity for some really fun and interesting situations, an opportunity that isn’t entirely delivered upon in this film. It gets moving on the plot very quickly, allowing for a slow reveal of Ig’s powers. The scenes in which it allows its characters to expose their dark sides (and some other sides) to a baffled Ig are terrific. The humour doesn’t seem to quite balance with the nasty side of the movie, though, and it does have a very nasty side. It isn’t so much horror as very dark humour that descends into viciousness, really; it doesn’t quite seem like a horror comedy somehow. It’s not so much scary as horrifying.

The movie has a moody aesthetic that is complimented well by Daniel Radcliffe’s intense performance. His Ig is not a nice person, all hard edges and bad decisions and cigarettes. The horns suit him rather well, actually. it’s hard not to feel for the guy, though, when everyone in his life either hates him and the entire town’s already made up his mind about him. There are some particularly painful scenes with his family. The film has to build up a decent amount of this sympathy to keep in reserve, because Ig’s ultimate transformation is a nasty, snake-ridden piece of work including flashbacks to Merrin’s rape and murder. Juno Temple, who is much, much better than this movie, is Ig’s pedestal-ready flawless female, and the other women in the film don’t fare much better (barmaid/slut, bitch, and mother stereotypes all). There is a sweet relationship between Ig and his also-British-playing-American brother Terry (Joe Anderson, who looks absolutely nothing like Daniel Radcliffe, and their parents look like neither of them). I did genuinely enjoy the darkly humorous first half of the film, but as it builds towards the climax it loses steam and falls apart. The big finale goes all out, but by then the film’s lost most of its charm.

Horns on IMDb

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