31 Days of Reviews: Horns (2013)

While being accused of his girlfriend’s murder, Ig wakes up one morning with mysterious horns growing out of his temples. Weird. Even weirder? The horns seem to make people tell him their deep, dark secrets. Ig decides to put this to good use and clear his name.

I’ve known about this film for a while now. It’s been on my Netflix list for quite some time. My parents rented it from the library, and I didn’t get the chance to see it. Today, I finally took the plunge.

Horns is a film, directed by Alexandre Aja, based on a book by Joe Hill. I didn’t know exactly what I was expecting when I went into it, but overall, it was a much better experience than I anticipated. I was really in love with the concept of people revealing their deep, dark secrets to the main character Ig (Daniel Radcliffe). It’s very interesting, leading to both outrageous statements from mothers and bartenders and truly heartbreaking moments from parents.

At the same time, the concept does seem silly on occasion. One of my biggest issues with the film was that I couldn’t figure out the tone that was attempting to be conveyed. The film seems many things at once. It’s definitely a rollercoaster. I didn’t realize just how much of a rollercoaster it was until I tried explaining the plot to someone who had never seen the film. That was a trip.

That being said, I thought Daniel Radcliffe’s performance was pretty brilliant. When working with such an outrageous concept, it’s really important that the actor be dedicated to the role, or else no one is going to believe it. I’ve seen many instances where that ended up being the case. This wasn’t one of them. I thought Radcliffe did a phenomenal job. His portrayal of the character kept me thoroughly enthused throughout the entire film.

The film starts out with some great cinematography. Genuinely, the opening sequence is amazing. I was taking notes. Everything in that opening sequence comes together so well. It seems to fizzle into more cut-and-dry camera angles as the movie progresses, but that beginning is worth talking about.

Overall, the film is a crime mystery. The best part is trying to figure out “who done it” Did Ig really kill his girlfriend? If not Ig, then who? That’s not to say that this film doesn’t have its scary moments. It does. For one, the fact that the main character is very Lucifer themed makes for some pretty sick plot points. I personally was disgusted by those horns growing out of his head. He doesn’t just wake up with horns. He wakes up growing horns. You see the horns breaking through skin, complete with sound effects, and when you add Radcliffe’s acting into it, I was cringing. There are other moments as well, including a lot of snake imagery and snake bites, burning flesh and shotgun blasts to the head. It’s not without its gore.

I will also add, for those who may be triggered, there is a rape scene toward the end. It’s included in the reveal of the truth about the girlfriend’s murder.

I haven’t mentioned her at all throughout this review, but the girlfriend Merrin (Juno Temple) is an integral part to the film as well. The actress has a very angelic face, and I think that worked really well in this particular film, especially since it was apparent that the whole town was in love with her. Her death is portrayed as a death of innocence. Her body seems radiant, dressed in white with almost marble looking skin. It really sticks out in the scenes where her death is shown since that takes place at night. She’s a beautiful and talented actress, but I’m sure that effect was added. Since her character is technically dead throughout the film, she only appears in flashbacks, but she was a very compelling character for me.

There are some portions of the story which I felt got really silly. Stuff really starts to escalate at an alarming pace toward the end, and I felt that was too much too fast. There are a lot of religious undertones, but I could never tell if the film was trying to be satire or not. i’m still not sure. It is possible that the themes didn’t translate well from the page to the screen.

Horns is currently available on Netflix streaming if you are interested. The movie was better than I was expecting it to be, but I probably wouldn’t watch it again personally, at least for a while. It’s a creative and original concept with some really good acting, but there are points where the story is a bit wacky. I would say it’s worth at least one viewing.

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