Tis’ the season for spookiness and evil spirits to take over the big-screens. Now, it’d be nice if all of these theatrical efforts were solid, but I suppose not everything can be a hit. When you get into the realm of the supernatural that isn’t completely a horror film, that’s where things get really hit-or-miss. Harry Potter headlines this film and while he is good, the film is certainly questionable. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn’t this.
Ig Perrish (Daniel Radcliffe) was a man who was deeply in love with his childhood friend, Merrin (Juno Temple). The two grew up in love and dated for many, many years. When it came time for Ig to propose, his offer was rejected and the next morning, Merrin was found dead. Everyone is convinced that Ig killed her, but he knows inside that he didn’t. Even more strange, are the horns that Ig wakes up with on his head. Some people can see them, but others have no idea what he’s fretting about as he tries to uncover what happened.
As the media become more involved in this case, Ig goes to hideout with his parents (James Remar & Kathleen Quinlan), but he notices something a bit different about them. They’re brutally honest with him and say some alarming things, but they’re not the only ones. Ig’s brother, Terry (Joe Anderson), and his lawyer friend Lee (Max Minghella) both have their own ideas about what happened to Merrin, but they can’t be for certain. Everyone starts changing around Ig and he slowly wonders that he possesses some supernatural, evil powers. Can he use those to find out what happened to Merrin?
Horns looked enticing at a first glance, but upon further inspection it turned out to be a half-assed attempt at a dark comedy that doesn’t really work. At all. It’s unfortunate that things turned out the way they did, because this is a story that could have been interesting and fun, had it been taken in a different direction. The cast is fine, it’s just their direction and delivery that are lacking.
Daniel Radcliffe is a very talented young man and his acting chops are still great in this film. He’s certainly got the most weight to lift in this absurd story and he does a pretty great job of keeping things afloat, even as the waves of poor storytelling keep crashing around him. He retains an emotional state all through the film that gives us a more vulnerable side to his character, but as he grows more powerful and more aware of what his powers can do, he has a bit more fun with everything and everyone and that’s when Redcliffe is really on. He balances hilarity and humility surprisingly well, and he’s heartbreakingly good when he has to use his powers against the people he truly cares about.
Despite the general silliness that this film’s plot revolves around, it is quite enjoyable to see Radcliffe battle with the Horns and learn to us his newfound powers. The effects in this film are great and everything looks really crisp, so that’s always a bonus. Juno Temple is as sweet as ever and her role actually got me more involved in this convoluted tale. There are many laughs to be had whenever Radcliffe makes people start spitting out their darkest secrets and the film gets increasingly enjoyable as people reveal more intimate details of their private thoughts. I’m not saying that these profane statements make sense for the story, but they’re a somewhat welcomed change-up from the routine boringness.
I never questioned the Horns that appeared on Radcliffe’s head and I didn’t question the powers it granted him, but the combination still befuddles me as the backstory for the characters doesn’t entirely make sense for everything that goes on. There’s an uneven amount of time spent on the childhood of these characters, in an attempt to convey how important Temple’s character is. We’re supposed to believe that everyone is enamored by her and it turns out that almost everyone is, which is even more weird when people start with their confessionals.
I’m a fan of Max Minghella’s and I’ve liked Joe Anderson in everything I’ve seen him in, but these two men just didn’t work for me in this film. There characters are severely underwritten and their end-game motives don’t add up with how they were originally presented to us. Then, you also have the inclusion of Heather Graham in this film and she’s given absolutely nothing to do. Anyone could have played the part and Graham puts in little-to-no effort. There are so many different side characters that we’re supposed to believe are important and crucial to Radcliffe’s life, but they all come off as extra fluff in a film that would benefit from some de-fluffing.
Horns offers up a great deal of talent that’s coupled with an unusually intriguing premise, but it manages to lose sight of most everything great and it ends up being nothing more than a below-average cinematic effort. Rest assured, Daniel Radcliffe is very good in the leading role, but he’s not good enough to elevate the performances and poor writing around him. Director Alexandre Aja‘s comedic take on horror goes pretty poorly in this latest effort and he loses sight of his focus almost immediately. He waits until the end to give the audience something they like, but by then it’s too late and we no longer care about what we’re seeing anymore.