by Sherry Lipp
Imagine waking up with a pair of devil horns growing out of your head and everyone you meet confessing their darkest secrets to you. That’s exactly what happens to Ig Perrish in Horns, the film adapted from Joe Hill’s novel of the same name. Horns is part horror and part murder mystery combined with a satirical edge and I guarantee it’s different than any other horror film you’ve seen. While it doesn’t quite come together in the end, it’s fun to watch and Daniel Radcliffe is excellent as the tormented Ig.
Not sure that he has gone crazy and is just imagining this new affliction, he stumbles out of his
bedroom to find his girlfriend Glenna (Kelli Garner) chomping on donuts and swilling Pepsi right out the bottle. Ig discovers she can see the horns, but she is utterly unimpressed, or alarmed by them. Instead she confesses to Ig that she would like to eat the entire box of donuts and get really fat so she can truly become the trash everyone in town already thinks she is.
The question is why does Ig have this sudden ability, and what do the horns mean? The obvious answer is the horns are a physical manifestation of Ig’s true nature, the devil. But the obvious answer is not always the right one. For one thing, Ig is a virtuous character who has fallen from grace. Sound familiar? Devil symbolism permeates this story, some it blatantly obvious and some subtle. Is Ig really the devil? The people in his small town think so. They think he raped and killed his long time girlfriend Merrin (Juno Temple) and then got away with it. They don’t like having this demon in their town, though all of them have skeletons in their own closets.
Directed by horror director Alexandre Aja, Horns is best during the first half when Ig first discovers his horns. It’s funny and dark as the people in town make their confessions including a doctor, a little girl, and the patron’s of the local bar. Even Ig’s own parents (James Remar and Kathleen Quinlan) can’t hold back their true feelings when face to face with the horns. And if you think parents have unconditional love than you’d be wrong. Unfortunately, as the film builds to the end it loses this satirical edge and turns to more conventional horror.
Ig appears to have a couple of allies, his musician brother Terry (Joe Anderson) and his best friend Lee (Max Minghella). Terry is a drug addict who seems out of it most of the time and Lee appears unaffected by the horns. Both of these characters are underdeveloped in the film (as compared to the book), so as the climax builds their relationship to the mystery of Merrin’s death seems forced and tacked on and really doesn’t make as much sense as it should. The ending of this film feels unsatisfying because it relies more on special effect and horror gross out rather than the clever storytelling that marked the beginning of the film.
That being said, I think Horns is worth viewing. For the most part it’s pretty fun and Daniel Radcliffe is a stand-out in this role. I predict this film will gain a cult following from horror fans. Horns is currently available on VOD including iTunes and Amazon Instant Video. UPDATE JAN 2015 – Horns is now available on Blu-ray.