Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Horns

Out now on Blu-Ray and DVD comes Horns,the tale of a young man who, after being accused of killing his childhood sweetheart, suddenly wakes up horns growing out of his forehead and rocking a devilishly persuasive attitude. Directed by schlock director Alexandre Aja of Piranha 3D and Mirrors fame, Horns is a surprisingly well made flick with a great central performance by Daniel Radcliffe as the hellish Ig Parish.


The original source material for Horns was the novel of the name by Stephen King’s son Joe Hill, and film retains much of the books spirit. Hill’s inspiration from his father is clear in the film which frequently feels like a good Stephen King adaptation. It’s got the flashbacks, the group of diverse children (including a girl and a fat one), a character dealing with addiction, an unexplainable force, and multitudes of King’s trademark religious references. The film equally belongs to director Alexandre Aja though, who really ups his game from the days of Piranha 3D. Horns is beautifully directed and knowingly over-the-top with Aja fully embracing the craziness of the horror/fantasy genre. As well as being a visual delight the film has a killer soundtrack too, with music ranging from David Bowie to that one Pixies song, all perfectly implemented into the film.


Perhaps the best thing in the film though is the central performance by Radcliffe. His last grown up role in The Woman in Black wasn’t too convincing and people still saw the boy wizard in everything he did. But it seems now in Horns he can finally shake off his Harry Potter trappings. Not only does Radcliffe manage a superb American accent he also manages to bring the strange character of Ig Parish to life. In lesser hands the angsty hoodie wearing Bowie fan may have come off as laughable, but Radcliffe sells it and makes Ig seem extremely realistic.

It’s refreshing to see a horror movie in this day age that doesn’t simply want to shock you with cheap scares or overdone torture porn violence. Horns is occasionally violent and shocking sure, but it’s usually done with its tongue planted firmly in its cheek. It’s more reminiscent of films like Evil Dead 2 and An American Werewolf in London than the cheap torture porn crap people like Eli Roth are constantly churning out. The horror and fantasy parts of Horns hit the mark, and so do the comedy parts. Both work perfectly together and Radcliffe shows he’s got the chops for both genres. The fantasy world is perfectly realised, and even if the rules and reasons behind it aren’t greatly explained Aja directs with such wit and style that it doesn’t really matter. Under the horror and fantasy conventions though is a solid murder mystery; who killed Ig’s girlfriend? Was it actually Ig, or was it one of the many supporting characters like Ig’s brother Terry, he best friend Lee, or even his Dad. To be honest though, there is never much doubt as to who it could be and, for the most part, there are only a couple of options. The mystery is still executed well, even if some of the films moments get lost in the mix between the horror, comedy, fantasy, and murder mystery genres. Perhaps Aja attempts too much in the film but it’s nice to see someone attempting something new with horror genre.


The supporting players in the film are also great, especially Ig’s friend Lee (Max Minghella) and his brother Terry (Joe Anderson). Lee is a goody two shoes lawyer with some secrets bubbling under the surface and Terry is a burnt out addict. Both are acted well and their diversity really brings the world to life. Ig’s dad (played by James Remar) is also enjoyable in the limited time he has. Both he and Ig’s Mum have an emotional scene with Ig but then sort of disappear out if the film. When Ig’s power of persuasion causes everyone else to be hilariously truthful, leading to some pretty funny gags, his interaction with his parents is shockingly sad, but unfortunately isn’t dwelled upon. Despite this, the balance of humour and heart is usually solid, meaning the jokes don’t outstay their welcome and that he film doesn’t get too soppy. It isn’t perfect, but Horns is a surprisingly well made horror fantasy and a great showcase of Radcliffe’s post-Potter acting chops.

Horns is a hell of a film, and gets 4/5.

★★★★☆

Tom Bumby


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