Saturday, October 11, 2014


This is one of these movies that doesn't fit neatly into a particular paradigm. Some of the posters for Horns make it look like a straight-up horror movie, while some of the trailers look a little more nuanced. So, what is it actually?

Essentially, Horns is a mystery mixed in with a fantasy fable, about a young man named Ig (Daniel Radcliffe) who is being subjected to incredible scrutiny by his community and local news media because, well, he killed his girlfriend.


Very, very allegedly, though it looks bad indeed, and doesn't help that Ig can't remember the night too well.

So, there's the mystery.

But in the course of all that focused hate, a newspaper compares Ig to the Devil, and he wakes up after a drunken tryst with—you guessed it—horns. And not just benign, everyday horns, but horns which are, essentially, a manifestation of a satanic presence. In his presence, people are inclined to reveal their unbridled ids, and to ask his permission as to whether or not they should act on them.

So, there's the fantasy/fable part. Which is kind of neat, because it plays into the mystery aspect. On the one hand, the horns allow Ig to extract information that he otherwise couldn't from people; on the other, if Ig is innocent, why would he sprout horns? It ain't exactly a halo.

By the third act, the movie shifts gears and goes into actual horror territory, including a rather over-the-top climactic scene with some serious gore, snakes, and somewhat dubious CGI.

The Boy and I really liked it. The Flower could not be induced to come, but we might take her to see it because we think she'd enjoy it. It's an unusual sort of film, but it made me want to read the book (by Joe Hill).

Alexandre Aja (Mirrors, Pirahna 3D) wrote the script and directed.

Daniel Radcliffe does a damn good American accent, even if he is once again playing a beleaguered young fellow with mysterious powers and an unnatural relationship with snakes. Even though he has the weird child-actor-all-grown-up look, he's filled out a bit, and he can act.

Juno Temple (Killer Joe, Maleficent) is entirely plausible as the ethereal beauty who may be Ig's angelic faithful soulmate, or may be a dirty whore. Heather Graham has a small gem of a role as a remarkably evil waitress. James Remar and Kathleen Quinlan play possibly the worst parents ever, or maybe just the most honest.

Max Minghella (The Internship, The Social Network) is the faithful friend and Joe Anderson (The Grey, A Single Shot) plays the unreliable big brother. David Morse plays the girlfriend's father. Kelli Garner is the hot mess who pines for Ig.

What I'm getting at is, it's good acting. Interesting and entertaining story. Mostly a mystery, though with some serious gore at the end. Oh, it's also, essentially, a love story.

Critics are not liking it much, and when we saw it the audience ratings (which have now been retracted on RT, presumably in advance of a wide release) were equally indifferent/negative. The Boy and I enjoyed the hell (heh) out of it.

This makes an interesting comparison with the (much more serious) Calvary, in that when Ig is walking around in his horns, he finds out how truly awful the entire town is. It also makes an interesting comparison with Faust (I'm thinking of the 1926 version because that's the one I've most recently seen), in that Ig is given a certain power, but with a righteous cause.

The question is, will it tempt him away from that righteous cause? Actually, the funniest scene in the movie is him abusing his power in a way it's hard to disapprove of, as it involves the media. Or at least, it's hard for me to disapprove but that probably just means I'm very corruptible. (If only someone would try, dammit!)

Anyway, this seems like a rather bold choice of movie to make. Like I said, it's not neatly in any genre, but it perhaps enough pop-appeal to hit it big. No idea, really. (And with having been absorbed into IMDB, I may never know.)

It opens wide this Halloween. We saw it earlier because...I don't know...Academy Award consideration? (Our theater does that a lot. We saw Two Faces Of January months ago and it just now got released.)

But if you're open to a fantasy love story and not put off by gore, this could be the movie for you.

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