Jan 9, 2015

[Movies] Horns (2013)

Daniel Radcliffe is Harry Potter. It's quite the heavy movie legacy to endure and one that could very well limit one's career. But more and more we've seen Radcliffe make sure that he continues to explore creative endeavors that are outside the sheepish little Harry, and the results have been rather impressive.

Horns generated quite a fair amount of buzz in different circles since the promotional photos looked pretty interesting even though it wasn't immediately clear what the movie was going to be about. And to ride along with that, I did my best to avoid reading more about the movie in order not to spoil myself to any significant degree.

It's hard to describe what his movie is supposed be since it doesn't quite fit one's typical movie genre definitions. The very fact that Radcliffe's character appears to have actual physical horns would make you think there are horror aspects to this, but I suppose it's really more of a darker fantasy. The trailer highlights a few comedic moments but this is hardly a comedy.

Whatever it is, it wasn't that bad.

Synopsis: Horns is a dark fantasy movie loosely based a novel of the same name by Joe Hill. The movie was directed by Alexandre Aja with a screenplay by Keith Bunin.

Our protagonist of sort in this movie is Ig Perrish (Daniel Radcliffe) who is the prime suspect in the rape and murder of his girlfriend Merrin (Juno Temple). The community is pretty much convinced that he did it and he's constantly being harassed. But things take an odd turn when he wakes up with what appear to be the beginnings of two horns growing out of his forehead. People can't seem to actively focus on the horns when they see them, but then they start to reveal their deepest and darkest secrets when in Ig's presence.

When Ig finally realizes the reasons people feel so uninhibited around him, he tries to use these abilities to determine the truth behind Merrin's murder. And thus he confronts his friends and even his brother in order to find out what they know about the events of that night. And as things progress, his horns only seem to grow larger and the potency of their influence even stronger. The movie also cuts back to flashbacks of how he and Merrin got together in the first place.

The movie starts out with a few ridiculous situations of people behaving strangely because of the effect of Ig's horns. And it would have been really easy to have the movie indulge in this aspect of the story and push the whole thing into a horror comedy of sorts. And thankfully it didn't go down that road.

However, things do get a little confusing as we as viewers try to figure out why the heck he had horns to begin with. And I'm not talking about the exact origins of the horns, but more about the reason why he has them. The movie throws around a lot of diverse imagery ranging from the horns to wings and whatnot but it's not immediately clear why. If he wasn't necessarily guilty of things, then why does he get the supernatural deformity? If this was a way to help him get to the bottom of things, then why does it seem to involve traditionally negative religious imagery?

The whole mystery behind the girlfriend's death is interesting enough and the narrative is structured in a manner that slowly reveals what happens in a dramatically appropriate manner. It's a complex chain of events and of course we learn about things in a manner that works really well as a story although it's pretty convenient that each character holds precisely the right part of the story to continue things.

The big ending is a little odd, but at least makes sense in terms of the character arc. If anything what helps the movie the most is Radcliffe itself since he's quite the competent actor and he really manages to convey the complex emotions that the character is going through. He's the most believable character in the entire movie, and I say this despite the fact that he has actual horns growing out of his head. That's saying something.

Horns is an interesting movie with a good premise, but in terms of execution it came across as being a bit confusing. It has a good story at the heart of things, but I'm not entirely clear as to what else it wanted to say. Thus the movie gets 3 strange behaviors due to the horns out of a possible 5.

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