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HORNS (review)

horns_ver5HORNS
Written by Keith Bunin and Joe Hill
Directed by Alexandre Aja
Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Juno Temple, David Morse and Max Minghella

Ig Perrish: Revenge is all consuming.

Everyone loves a good tale of a murdered female. It sounds perverse and bizarre to actually type that, but with shows like Veronica Mars and Pretty Little Liars, and books like the incredibly successful GONE GIRL, now adapted for the big screen, it seems that success starts with the murder of a woman. But what audience goers love just as much (especially genre fans) is a good, old fashioned tale of revenge, and French born director, Alexandre Aja (HAUTE TENSION) is no stranger to those. The only question remaining is whether the director of the campy and terrible PIRANHA 3D can pull off his own revenge and redeem his directorial prowess with the devilish tale that is HORNS?

Based on a novel written by Stephen King’s son himself, Joe Hill, whose novels have won him numerous accolades and literary recognition, HORNS is set among a logging community (a la TWIN PEAKS) on the Western shore. Ig Perrish (Daniel Radcliffe) and Merrin (Juno Temple) are childhood sweethearts now living an adult life, very happily. When Merrin’s body is found raped and murdered at the base of the treehouse the couple used as their private getaway their entire lives, everyone in the town believes Ig is guilty, and is looking to convict him in the murder. Luckily his long-time friend and lawyer, Lee (Max Minghella) is one of the few that believes he is actually innocent, and offers some consolation as Ig spends most of his days dodging invasive reporters and picketers who harass him outside his own home. Somehow, these are the least of his concerns.

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Mysteriously one morning, Ig wakes up to find a set of horns that have sprouted out of his head. Even more surprising are the reactions that people have when they see the horns; they aren’t initially shocked, but intrigued, and begin to offer up information about themselves willingly to Ig. As he begins to learn that people will tell the truth to him and believe every word he says, he starts to use this newfound power to uncover the truth about Merrin’s murder, and the horns are starting to grow bigger.

It’s a simple premise, the girlfriend being murdered and all, but Hill has created a tale where the accused really does become exactly what the townspeople think he is: a devil. Ig embraces this label and his horns, exploiting his accusers with the purpose of clearing his name and finding out who exactly the killer is. It isn’t clear from the beginning wether or not he did it, and in fact I was still guessing right up until the last 20 minutss or so, at which point I would have been completely satisfied had he done it or not. Replete with religious imagery both obvious (from the church going children and Marrin’s cross, Eve’s diner with it’s obligatory apple logo etc) to the things that are a little more subtle (every car’s licence plate is a passage reference from the bible) the tale begins to interject distinct parallels between those who are “pure” (as Ig saw Merrin), and those who are not. Although everyone in this town is pretty messed up.

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Radcliff gives a solid performance that cooly walks the line between innocent boyfriend and psychotic demon, yet still manages to carry with him that charm that has lead so many fans to appreciate his work as an adult actor. It is still hard to imagine him not “Wingardium Leviosa-ing” all over our screens, and he will probably always carry that image of the boy who survived with him. Minghella is equally enjoyable to watch in his supporting role, and even more so when things begin to really travel south in the last act.

HORNS isn’t the horror movie the trailer is making it out to be. It is a fantasy tale wrapped up in a revenge plot and unfolded as an entertaining mystery. Much of the movie is full of dark humour that is almost as much fun as watching the twists unfold. However, there are many elements that turn HORNS into something that it just shouldn’t be, and that’s a somewhat campy story with mostly bad CGI graphics. Yes there is blood-a-plenty in HORNS (with an absolutely amazing head explosion) and far too many snakes that will definitely make you squirm, but there was something about HORNS that I just couldn’t shake. Perhaps it was the religious element that just wanted to spell it out to the audience, or maybe Aja missed the point and brought too much humour into the finished product. That isn’t to say HORNS isn’t enjoyable, because it definitely is. In a way, it reminds me of Sam Raimi’s DRAG ME TO HELL, but without the directorial panache.

3.5 sheep

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How many sheep would you give Horns?

 

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