I had high hopes for Horns, especially considering it was written by N0s4A2 and Locke & Key author Joe Hill (he’s also Stephen King’s son). I’d been meaning to read the book first, and I really wish I had, because I ended up watching the movie on-demand, and now I’m turned off by the whole damned thing.
Daniel Radcliffe plays Iggy Parrish, whom we know very little about, aside from the fact that he’s a local DJ, and the town hates him because they think he killed his girlfriend Merrin (Juno Temple), who is so weak and soft spoken it’s like she’s a manic pixie dreamgirl. Iggy is torn up about it, and has obviously turned to alcohol because Merrin was the love of his life ever since they were kids. By the way, we don’t actually see the actual murder of Merrin until the end, so keep that in mind.
After going apeshit on one of the memorials left at the site of Merrin’s murder, and blaspheming a statue of the Virgin Mary, Iggy wakes up next to the town’s “fallen” woman, and has sprouted horns on his head. As the film progresses, Iggy discovers that his horns give him the power to see into people’s minds, but also the power to make people confess and sometimes do what he tells them to do. He decides to not only use this power in an attempt to find out who killed Merrin, he uses that power to punish those people who’ve been unfair to him, or haven’t had his back. So in a way, he embraces the evil at work in the horns because he’s fed up with everything and everyone. He does eventually find the killer though, and it’s a bit of a swerve.
Horns is part raunch comedy, part romance, and very little horror movie. In fact, it really wasn’t all that scary. It was more of the first two elements than anything, which was so completely disappointing. Radcliffe maintains his boyish good looks, and the toll of becoming a demon/fallen angel really doesn’t consume him at all, aside from the horns themselves. He’s grieving, and he is angry as hell, and it shows. But, I would have thought that letting that type of evil flourish in your soul would have more consequences than looking like a bath is necessary.
The plot was muddled and plodding particularly because on the focus on Merrin and Iggy’s romance. The biggest fail came from the fact that they really didn’t have any evidence on the Iggy anyway. All they had was conjecture and rumor, not enough to indict him. They didn’t even have DNA evidence. The confessions from the townsfolk were predictable and juvenile, as if a teenage boy had written the script. There are some cool visuals–like Iggy walking out of a smoky building looking like a proper devil–but those are few and far between.
I may read Hill’s book in future, but not anytime soon while I wash the taste of the movie out of my mouth. If you’re looking for scares, you’re better off watching something else.