“Horns is a film that will benefit from multiple viewings”
by Nav Qateel
Ig Perrish (Daniel Radcliffe) finds himself accused of murdering his long-term sweetheart Merrin Williams (Juno Temple). Bizarrely, Ig begins to grow horns that, although most people can actually see them, they just as quickly forget they’re there. The horns also cause people to be brutally honest in Ig’s presence, divulging every embarrassing thought and feeling. And at Ig’s suggestion, anyone in his company will do anything he asks of them, leading to some highly amusing scenes, like when he persuades the two closeted cops who’ve been hounding him, to give each other oral sex.
Eventually, Ig attempts to discover just who murdered Merrin, using his new-found powers, although, as well as using it to help him get to the bottom of the mystery, it also becomes a great source of entertainment as we watch Ig trying to master his new skill. Ig also has to contend with the entire town being convinced of his guilt as well as the police hampering his attempts at investigating. A determined Ig is relentless and leaves no stone unturned.
I just finished reading Joe Hill’s magnificent debut horror novel “Heart-Shaped Box” after previously reading the impressive “NOS4A2,” but decided to wait for the movie version of Horns purely on the basis of Alexandre Aja directing, plus the fact it featured such a strong cast. Aja has directed or written several movies I’ve thought very highly of, like High Tension, The Hills Have Eyes, Mirrors, P2 and that excellent Elijah Wood starrer Maniac.
Joe Hill has a slightly different technique to dad Stephen King, but I find Hill’s work transfers to screen a little better. That could simply be down to the fact Hill’s script was being brought to life by the more adventurous, cutting edge director Aja, unlike the safe studio directors King’s scripts are more-often-than-not treated to, Kubrick’s The Shining being the exception to that rule. After the success of Horns, one would hope that “Heart-Shaped Box” gets picked up, as that was one of best horror books I’ve had the pleasure of reading in quite some time.
Radcliffe does a great job with his character and in my mind has finally shaken off any perceived remnants of his Harry Potter persona. This was no small task as the actor’s entire working childhood — over some 10 years — was taken up with the franchise. If you harbor any doubts about Radcliffe’s ability then once you see the level of commitment by the actor here, you should come away with a new-found respect as I did.
While the broad outline of Horns isn’t necessarily all that unusual for a whodunit in itself, as we follow Ig trying to get to the bottom of this murder-mystery. However, it’s the addition of Ig’s fast-growing, truth-serum-like horns that takes this tale away from the ordinary and to that of the extraordinarily entertaining. And it introduces a nice bit of originality to the story, too. Eventually, Ig realizes that the horns are there to serve the purpose of helping him, if he can figure out how to best use them. Because Merrin’s murder had already taken place, unseen to the audience at the start, the clues and story were shown in a series of flashbacks, although, never in chronological order, but certainly with no shortage of exposition, whereby allowing us to easily keep up with the action.
The brilliant and utterly fearless Juno Temple was as good as ever, yet her part never called for her to give the sort of performance that’s made her the darling of the indie scene. One only needs to think back to films like Killer Joe or Magic Magic to get an idea of just how versatile and incredibly talented the actress truly is. The quality of acting in Horns is extremely high, and director Alexandre Aja works his magic with playwright and first-time feature writer Keith Bunin’s script, which is infused with touches of levity in what is otherwise a dark tale. Horns is a film that will benefit from multiple viewings, thanks to Joe Hill’s story, some fantastic acting, and Radcliffe’s nuanced performance.
Horns is a must see.