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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Horns (2013)

Alexandre Aja's film, based on a novel by Joe Hill, is an acquired taste. From Daniel Radcliffe's very good, but constraining, American accent, to figuring out the rules of Hill and Aja's universe, liking Horns initially seemed like an uphill battle. In the end though, with some manipulative, but circumstantial, moments I was sucked into the universe and was won over.

In Horns, Iggy Perrish (Radcliffe) is suspected of killing his longtime girlfriend, Merrin Williams (Juno Temple). Shortly after her death, he wakes up with horns poking out of his head. These horns, which are seamlessly attached to Radcliffe, may be a gift from the devil himself, but also may be the key to his salvation.

Horns is a mixed bag of good, bad, and great scenes. Absolutely none of them are terrible, but some probably could have been cut for time. Parts, of this two-hour movie, seem to drag during the middle and toward the end. The script has good, the dialogue is well-written, but some characters themselves seem less real than they should. Iggy's parents (James Remar and Kathleen Quinlan), are, at times, the standouts. On the other hand, some are very real, like local reporters who hound Iggy for an exclusive. As a fan of Heathers and Natural Born Killers, his treatment of them is one of my favorite moments in the film.

As the mystery unravels, the movie, as a whole, gets better. It really builds itself up for its final moments, but ultimately Horns is not the sum of its parts, even though many of those parts (great performances, effects, makeup, cinematography) aren't interchangeable. Horns can go from dark, to funny, to sad, successfully, at the drop of a hat. In the end, all I want to do now is see how much better the book is.


Update: The breakup scene is perfect. The fact that I recalled it when..."needed," even though I've only seen the movie like once, boosts Horns up.