Horns (2013/14)


Based on the much loved (by me as well) book by Joe Hill of the same name, Horns is the type of film that, if done correctly could be one of the classics of the "fantasy/horror" genre. Unfortunately, while it does flash moments of brilliance, Horns as a film is crushed under the weight of the ambitious source material.

When Ig Parrish awakens after another all night bender - this one topped off by fucking childhood
friend and town slut Glenna, he discovers he has begun to sprout devil horns on his forehead. The horns give Ig the power to force everyone he interacts with to tell him the truth and influence their behavior, no matter how disgusting it may be or difficult it may be to hear. The horns are the least of Igs problems though. Ever since his girlfriend Merrin was found brutally murdered, Ig has been a pariah. Most people are convinced he murdered her in cold blood and are far to eager to tell him what they think. Even his family, despite public support, thinks Ig is guilty. It's not until Ig receives the horns that he is able to learn the much more nefarious truth surrounding Merrins death.

Directed by season horror vet Alexander Aja (High Tension), Horns is by far the most ambitious project he's helmed to date, and it shows. The films frequent tonal shifts between black comedy, horror, and fantasy, are too much for the film to support. That being said, it's actually the horror elements of the film that Aja struggles the most with. When Ig and Merrin are in their Bowie-influenced dreamlike tree house, the film feels like something that Guillermo Del Toro could proudly call his own. Aja handles the early black comedy parts of the the film, specifically when Ig is just beginning to learn the extent of the horns powers, with a deft hand. It's only when the real horror elements are introduced during the end of the second act that the film starts to fall apart.

There is plenty to like about Horns. The performances are wonderful, particularly Daniel Radcliffe. You have to wonder if he will ever shake off Harry Potter, (being taller than 5' 6" would help) but a film like Horns (and last years The Woman in Black) will certainly go a long way to shaking off that iconic role. And while I may have hated every single thing about that piece of shit show 'The River', Joe Anderson as Igs older, drug addled brother, does a lot to aquit himself of that disaster. There are other slid supporting performances from 'Dexters' James Remar and Kathleen Quinlan as Ig and Terrys parents and the all around awesome David Morse as Merrins father.

Horns is a mixed bag of tonality, and ultimately that's what brings the film to its knees. While the novel can take the time to shift back and forth, the film tries to fit all those changes into a 2 hour narrative. It makes me wonder if a movie can be too faithful to its source material? The film certainly feels like it would have benefited from a little streamlining of the narrative to fit a visual medium.

Horns is pretty much available everywhere on DVD/Blu Ray and on all VOD platforms. Read the Joe Hill novel first, then pick up the film to see what could have been.

** and 1/2 stars out of *****

As always, thanks for reading and "enjoy every sandwich."

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