Based on the bestselling novel by Joe Hill (that’s horror maestro Stephen King’s son), Horns is a spellbinding gothic fairy tale that tackles lost love and the pits of human nature to deliver one of the most enjoyable horror flicks in some time. This was one of the highlights of this year’s Toronto International Film Festival.
Ig Perrish (Daniel Radcliffe) wakes up one day to find he has grown a set of horns that grant him strange abilities. Haunted by the brutal murder of his girlfriend (Juno temple) and hounded by the people of his town who blame him, he decides to use those abilities to help exact his brutal revenge on the true killer.
As Ig quickly unravels the conspiracy, people can’t help confiding in him- and more often than not acting out- their most primal desires. So matter where he goes he leaves a trail of destruction, at times shamelessly depraved (see Heather Graham’s role as a sadistic waitress) at others touching. The humour is transferred seamlessly from book to screen, encapsulating the most realistic aspects of Ig’s condition and wrapping them with such charm and glee that there are more than just a few laugh-out-loud moments.
It’s not all black comedy though; Alexandre Aja (Switchblade Romance, The Hills Have Eyes 2006) understands the most important aspect of this story: at its heart, under the sharp, devilish humour and zany plot points, Horns is a romance. His attentions towards Ig and Merrin’s relationship, the heart-breaking fate of it and the superb casting of Radcliffe-Temple provides a believable base from which all other facets of the plot can grow from. Radcliffe has here stepped into full fruition as an actor, removing doubts of his post-Potter significance by seizing the down-and-out lover and relaying him with such torment and tenderness that the film often pulls at heartstrings whilst making you laugh and cower at the brutality of its more visceral scenes.
One of the few gripes with the film would be its bombastic and- at points -choppy music choice and editing which shake you out of Aja’s near-masterpiece. When the rest of the film has such a unity of vision, it’s a shame some of those soundtrack choices hit a gimmicky note, but it’s a small gripe in the face of such an enjoyable film. Similarly, the finale gets a bit stretched, but it’s difficult to talk realism on the subject of the Devil.
Consistently brilliant, horrific, and hilarious, Horns flaunts Radcliffe’s best performance to date and the claim to be one of the most touching horror films of recent years. This is a fantastic piece of filmmaking and a great addition to Aja’s repertoire.
Dir. Alexandre Aja
Stars. Daniel Radcliffe, Juno Temple, Max Minghella, Joe Anderson, James Remar, Kathleen Quinlan, Heather Graham,