Directed By: Alexandre Aja
Written By: Keith Bunin (screenplay), Joe Hill (novel)
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Juno Temple, Max Minghella, Heather Graham, Joe Anderson, David Morse, and Kathleen Quinlan
In this supernatural murder mystery, Horns tells the tale of a Ignatius “Ig” Perrish, a young man who wakes up from a drunken night accused of murdering his own girlfriend. Things take an unusual turn when Ig starts to grow horns on his head causing anyone near him to reveal their true nature and most hidden desires.
Directed by Alexandre Aja (Mirrors, Piranha 3D, Maniac), the film is based on a novel of the same name by Joe Hill and stars Daniel Radcliffe as “Ig” Perrish, the main character who tries to solve his girlfriend Merrin’s (Juno Temple) death despite the entire town believing that he had been the one to kill her. As Ig sprouts horns and begins to look like an actual devil, he struggles internally as all humans do, to not give in to his most animalistic and destructive desires. At first, his family appears to be supportive of him and his best friend Lee (Max Mingehella) is working as a public defender to prove his innocence.
But as the movie progresses and Ig’s horns grow in size, he begins to use its power and embraces the darkness to solve the mystery of Merrin’s murder. Through encounters he has with different characters, audiences get flashbacks of events that occurred the night of Merrin’s death. Without being too spoilery, viewers will discover that all is not as it seems and many people had either lied or withheld the truth from Ig and the police out of cowardice, fear, or self-gain.
When Ig finally discovers the true killer it comes as a blow and we see how humans can mask their monstrous sides far too easily and the horns had actually helped him see past it. Radcliffe does an admirable job of taking us on Ig’s personal journey through hell and back. He gives range and depth to his performance and audiences can easily connect with his character as a young man who had just lost his first and true love. Radcliffe, best known for his portrayal as Harry Potter in the Harry Potter Series, is showing us that he definitely has the acting chops to take on a wide range of characters. As a big Potter fan, not once did I associate Ignatius Perrish with Harry and admittedly this is the first Radcliffe film I’ve seen post-Potter.
The supporting cast also does a good job, from Joe Anderson’s drug addicted older brother Terry Perrish to David Morse as Dale Williams, Merrin’s angry and grief stricken father.
My one complaint is that nearly every major male character in the film seemed to have a weird obsessive fascination with Merrin as this pure female character compared to Glenna who was considered the town whore. In a flashback we see that Glenna had been friends with Ig, Terry, Lee, and Eric (now the town sheriff) as kids and Lee mentions that Glenna was giving sexual favors away because she thought that was the only way that men would like her. It is perhaps commentary on the stereotypical view of women as either virginal (Merrin) or as sexual objects (Glenna). Still, the fixation on Merrin was creepy.
In addition, the ending also felt too over the top as the big showdown finale between Ig and our real killer. I won’t spoil it but let’s say Daniel Radcliffe could have said flame on! Still, Horns is a film packed with imagery that will leave you remembering that all humans have a dark side.
Images courtesy of Doane Gregory/RADiUS-TWC.