JUNO TEMPLE MAX MINGHELLA JOE ANDERSON HEATHER GRAHAM KATHLEEN QUINLAN DAVID MORSE
Daniel Radcliffe continues to choose roles, desperate to shed the Harry Potter image. The horns on his head are nice, but it’s the American accent that will have you taking a second look; it’s wonderful. “Are you horny?” That's how the film opens; a play on words for sure, but with director Alexandre Aja at the helm, you walk into this one expecting something out of the ordinary, defiant, and grotesque. Unfortunately, Horns, which is based on the novel by Joe Hill, goes the way of Jennifer’s Body. It’s certainly bloody good fun in a handful of clever scenes, but reduces itself to the type of R rated film pre-teens might script if they were actually allowed to watch R rated films.
Accused of murdering his childhood girlfriend Merrin (Temple), Ig Parrish (Radcliffe) is desperate to clear his name and destroy the person who took the only thing that gave his life meaning. What’s worse is that half the soggy Washington suburb thinks he did it, including Merrin’s father (Morse). After a night of pissing on candles, kicking in porcelain mother Mary, and drunken frivolity with a barmaid, Ig wakes up with a headache and horns. However, no one seems to notice the horns or care about them; all they want to do is reveal their darkest feelings, which he quickly realizes may be more of a blessing than a curse.
The first childhood flashback is a real slam-on-the-breaks kind of moment for the momentum of the story. Sure, it’s necessary back story that plays heavily into the third act, but it occurs at a time when we are still trying to figure out the rules and what exactly this film is about. Once we return to present day and Ig takes control and begins understanding his horny power, things get interesting starting with a group of reporters chasing him around asking questions. In this moment Radcliffe looks like he is having a blast with this character and demonstrating a fiendish side of his talent we haven’t seen before. And, of course, the accent is brilliant.
Aja’s French horror thriller High Tension was a weird genre masterpiece, and he followed that up remaking The Hills Have Eyes (also starring Quinlan) and disturbed me to no end with what he put on screen. Then he did Piranha 3D and lost all his credibility, following that up with Horns trying to regain it, but he fails. There is a cool premise, story, and character here, but it feels so misunderstood and misrepresented. It’s a twisted love story, a dangerous coming of age film and a very sick dark comedy, but Aja can’t seem to get control of the heavy elements and make them work in his favor. Radcliffe is an actor who seems up for anything, yet so often this performance feels underserved. Be a total farce like Drag Me to Hell or be a sick and twisted murder mystery like The Lovely Bones, but don’t dance somewhere in the middle.
Final Thought – Go for the horns, stay for Harry Potter’s American accent, then leave when it turns into a bad teenage gore comedy.
By: Dustin Chase