The Sin You Can Live With:
With the best will in the world, Horns is a movie that I just don’t get. I don’t get it at all.
Yet I’m not going to lash into it or tell you to avoid it like the plague because it may just be me! Now I know that regular readers would be astonished if that were the case, my taste being absolutely impeccable and all, but who knows? This might be one of those times.
I can only say that I did not enjoy it and I did not get it. However, having said that, if it is nothing else then it is original. That is an enormous plus right there in a film landscape where studios appear to be terrified of taking a chance on anything that isn’t a remake or a sequel.
Also, there is some genuine talent at work here. It’s just that I personally think that they should have been off doing something else – or perhaps (and this is just a thought) trying to make something coherent out of the mess that is Horns. For whilst it is certainly original it’s not the kind of fall-around-laughing, stunned-by-how-good-this-is kind of original that say for instance Being John Malkovich was. This would be more of the what-the-fuck-am-I-looking at variety.
Ig Perrish (Daniel Radcliffe) has just been released on bail after the murder of his girlfriend Merrin (Juno Temple) and everyone, right up to and including his family, thinks that he has done it. He enlists the aid of his boyhood friend Lee (Max Minghella) to prove his innocence.
So far, so fairly sane. Then he goes on an almighty bender and wakes up the next morning with a pair of horns sprouting from his forehead. As he attempts to get something done about his unusual predicament he discovers that not only does no one find them particularly odd but that their very presence makes them both tell him their deepest, darkest desires and act out on them — this being sometimes for the good, sometimes for the bad but not really what Ig wants to be burdened with in addition to a pair of bloody great Satanic-looking horns.
OK, so maybe there is a bit of a Kafka/Metamorphosis feeling coming through? Well, not really because that would be unbalanced by the wealth of serpent/Garden of Eden/angel/crucifix imagery. Nope; I just don’t have anything.
The only other thing I’ve seen from director Alexandre Aja was the terrific 2003 film High Tension, but that incredibly suspenseful piece of work was relatively straightforward. Writer Keith Bunin’s screenplay is by all accounts faithful to Joe Hill’s novel, so presumably there is no high tension there. Hill, by the way, is the son and spitting image of Stephen King and is presumably pissed off by people like me pointing this out.
Radcliffe is excellent as the bewildered Ig, although I could have done without his annoying girlfriend; and there is a terrific cameo from Heather Grahame as a waitress, willing to tell the most appalling lies in order to achieve her fifteen minutes of fame. (“I tell them that after you bashed her head in you turned her over and fucked her in the ass. Everyone loves a good sex-murder.” This lunatic would have fitted right into any reality show you can name.)
So who is Horns aimed at? It beats me; and at just over two hours it is far too long. Maybe you could recommend it if you have an annoying fundamentalist Christian as a neighbour. Failing that suggestion, you’re on your own.