People say you should always do the right thing, but sometimes there is no right thing, and then… well then you just have to pick the sin you can live with.
When a young woman is found murdered in the woods, her longtime love, Ig Perrish (Daniel Radcliffe), becomes the prime suspect. Convinced of his guilt, the town has already condemned him, including the victim’s father and perhaps even Ig’s parents. Being treated like the devil himself, Ig begins to take on a demonic appearance, waking to find two horns growing from his head. He seems to be the only one who finds this to be unsettling and odd. Everyone he turns to for help seems unfazed. In fact, they end up speaking their minds, barraging him with brutal, sometimes downright disturbing truths about themselves. Ig begins to realize his horns have granted him some kind of psychic power and he slowly gains control over the people in town. Deciding to use this to his advantage, Ig sets out to find the real killer of the woman he had planned to marry.
I’ve always enjoyed a good murder mystery and the premise of Horns is a fascinating one. What happens when you’re accused of a crime you didn’t commit, when everyone treats you like you’re a monster… and then you wake up one morning to find you’re turning into one – literally. But along with the physical changes, you’re now able to draw out everyone’s deepest, darkest secrets. Not only that, but you can push them to do anything you want by a mere suggestion. Fight to the death… commit arson. Do you succumb to the demon within, or do you use your “powers” for good, to clear your name and get justice for a lost loved one?
Horns answers all of these questions, carried by an impressive performance by Daniel Radcliffe. His post-Harry Potter career has by far been the most fascinating one if you exclude Robert Pattinson from the discussion. Watching Ig’s journey from a grieving lover to embracing his evil side is a treat, especially given the fact that nearly everyone who suffers at his hand is deserving of it. Even at his worst, Ig remains a sympathetic hero, alone in his grief and fighting to maintain his sanity and even his faith.
His relationship with Merrin (Juno Temple) is shown in flashbacks, starting back when they met as kids and leading up to Ig’s ill-timed proposal which sets off a tragic chain of events leading to Merrin’s murder. Despite the fact that Merrin is dead when the movie begins, these flashbacks help to understand Ig and Merrin’s love story, which is incredibly important if you’re going to care at all about Ig’s journey. Temple and Radcliffe had amazing chemistry in the little screentime they had, as did the two actors who played them as children.
Horns was not well received by critics when it was released, so my expectations were a bit tempered when I sat down to watch it. But, honestly, I was pleasantly surprised. Director Alexandre Aja does a great job at keeping the movie progressing at a steady pace, though at times the tone of the film felt a bit muddled. However, that didn’t really ruin my enjoyment while watching. Was it a great movie? No, but it’s an entertaining one with some gruesome moments and dark humor that I appreciated. There’s definitely a theme of faith here, of what you gain when you find faith, and what you lose when it’s ripped away from you, but it’s never preachy or over the top.
I’m sure there are plenty of other horror films that are more deserving of a watch this October, but Horns is great if you’re looking for a beautiful love story disguised as a dark-revenge comedy to pass the time.