Genre – Horror/Fantasy, Drama, Book to movie adaptation
Director – Alexandre Aja (The Hills Have Eyes)
Cast – Daniel Radcliffe, Juno Temple, Max Minghella, Joe Anderson, Kelli Garner, Michael Adamthwaite
Alluring element – Daniel Radcliffe officially shaking off the remains of Harry Potter and turning into a devil, both literally and figuratively to avenge the murder of his girlfriend. I’m so in.
Scorecard: Plot – 8 Acting – 10 Representation of Genre – 6 Cinematography – 9 Effects/Environment – 8 Captivity – 7 Logical consistency – 7 Originality/Creativity – 9 Soundtrack/Music – 8 Overall awesomeness – 8
I think the only fair way to start my review of Horns is with a disclaimer. Well, two disclaimers really. First, I read the book Horns and thoroughly enjoyed it, but because of that I spent a lot of time watching the movie waiting for elements of the book to appear, and then trying to figure out if I liked the book or the movie. Or both. Second, I love Daniel Radcliffe. LOVE HIM. To me, he can do no wrong. However, I worked really hard to separate myself from that so I can give Horns a fair review. So, with that being said, I’ll get to it.
Horns is the story of Iggy Perish (Daniel Radcliffe) and his journey to find the person who killed the girl he loves. All the while he is the number one suspect and, for whatever reason, he woke up one morning with horns growing out of his head a la Satan. Of course the horns are not merely cosmetic, they cause the people Iggy comes in contact with to reveal their most horrible truths to him, as well as their darkest secrets and desires and then ask his permission to act on them. And naturally they give Ig the inclination to give in to his more evil urges as well which enables him to find his beloved’s killer all the more easily.
Joe Hill’s Horns is honestly my type of love story, and I’m really not a fan of love stories. It’s dark, the love is overpowering and insecure, and the happy ending is definitely one side of a double edged sword. The story takes place in our universe, but with a fantastical twist. Granted, there is a strong basis of Christianity in the story, but as opposed to taking a side on religion, it merely uses its elements for fantasy’s sake. A cross necklace does play an important role, but so does the devil and frankly he’s portrayed in a pretty favorable light.
The movie really tells a great story, but unfortunately it stutters in its flow and spends too much time on some less crucial elements which causes important plot points to suffer. A lot of energy was spent flashing back to the love story between Iggy and his dearly departed Merrin (Juno Temple), and while those scenes are beautifully shot and full of heart they may have sucked up too much time. Iggy is the only character in the movie who is really fully developed, everyone else has very little screen time and their introductions and explanations are rushed. This might not be a problem in a full on romance about the gooey love between just two people, but it does cause Horns to suffer a little because it’s a murder mystery. By the time the reveal of the real killer came around, it felt a little weak because as little as each of the side characters were shown it basically could have been anyone, as there was no motive or background given for anyone.
At times, the dialogue feels unnatural and the actors have to say things it seems no person would ever say in real life, but other than those moments the movie is extremely well acted. I assure you it is not my bias talking when I say that Daniel Radcliffe was captivating. I love Harry Potter more than the next guy, but so far this is the best performance I’ve seen from Radcliffe. He’s vulnerable, angry, scared and downright wicked. Anything that the movie Horns itself may have lacked, he single-handedly made up for.
Overall, Horns is absolutely worth seeing. It’s really beautifully shot and the scenery is just gorgeous. The love story is sweet and cruel, the fantasy and comedy elements hit hard and leave a lasting impression. I left the theater unsure about what to think about it but the movie stuck with me, which I think is a mark of what makes it good. I wasn’t sure at certain points while I was watching it, but I kept thinking about it and picturing it after it was over and it left me with one of those beautiful melancholy feelings. The more I relive it, the more I want to go and see it again.