Horns Directed by Alexandre Aja
Written by Keith Bunin, Adapted from the novel by Joe Hill
Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Max Minghella, Juno Temple, Kelli Garner, Joe Anderson, James Remar, Kathleen Quinlan, David Morse, Heather Graham Blu-ray | DVD | Amazon Instant Video | Netflix Streaming
Original Release Date: October 31, 2014
Kids are asleep, significant other is in bed, and you can’t sleep. I know what you’re thinking… “What’s new on Netflix?” One new release that leapt out at me was Horns. Horns is the perfect storm for horror geeks: directed by French gore-maestro Alexandre Aja, based on book by Joe Hill (son of Stephen King!!!) and starring Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe, who was surprisingly effective in his first horror film, 2012’s The Woman in Black.
We all react differently to adversity and personal trauma: we drink, we lash out, we stay close to our best friends who won’t judge us, we get makeovers. Ig Perrish (Radcliffe, in a roll that will smash your cutesy memories of a certain young wizard) does all the above, except his makeover isn’t a new haircut or trip to the day spa… it’s friggin HORNS! Yep, demon-like horns growing out of his skull. Of course, if he didn’t look guilty of murder before, he certainly looks the part now.
Ig Perrish is a young man in his 20s who is madly in love with his girlfriend, Merrin (Juno Temple). They’ve been together since childhood, and are planning a future together. Except there are two issues: first Merrin breaks up with him publicly, and then later that night, Merrin is murdered and the entire town thinks — no, KNOWS — that Ig killed her.
The interesting thing isn’t that Ig is growing horns, but rather the impact the horns has on the people around him. Strangers begin confessing their secrets; his family tells him bitter truths he doesn’t ask for. His mom’s line, “I don’t want you to be my son anymore” made me wince aloud. He also discovers that along with hearing hard-to-hear truths, he can also now get anyone to do anything he wants, leading to a great scene where he tells the news media following him to fight it out for an exclusive interview with him. The only people who seem to believe him are his drug addict brother, Terry (Joe Anderson) and his best friend/lawyer, Lee (Max Minghella). Ig uses his new “powers” and his new friends (an army of snakes that follow him) to uncover the truth behind Merrin’s murder.
I’ve been a huge fan of Alexandre Aja since his hit 2003 gore-fest Haute Tension (released as High Tension). That opened the door for me to French-extremis cinema and some of the craziest, most brutal, and best horror films of the past decade. His remake of Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes far surpassed the original. So when I learned about his adaptation of Joe Hill’s Horns, I was on board. Aja’s film is rich is biblical symbolism (some of it not so subtle), and allusions to the seven deadly sins. There are parts that are truly touching: Merrin’s dad (the always great David Morse) reacts exactly how’d you’d expect a grieving father to and the scenes with Ig’s parents really make you think what even your closest friends and family members would say to you without a filter. I’d describe the film not as pure horror but rather as parts horror, dark comedy, and crime drama. The soundtrack adds a lot, specifically the addition of Marilyn Manson’s version of Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus.”
More than anything else, Horns is a showcase for Radcliffe. You will NOT see him as Harry Potter after this. He is dark, brooding, violent, cursing, and naked! From the sex scenes with Temple, to his horned transformations and beyond, this was a true coming out party for him as a film actor. Whereas Woman in Black felt like Radcliffe trying something new, Horns has him take command and put an entire film on his shoulders. Ig is driven and fueled by his rage and emotional imbalance and Radcliffe plays the part perfectly.