Plot: After he is blamed for the murder of his girlfriend, Ignatius (Daniel Radcliffe) wakes to find he has sprouted horns and has supernatural powers that will help him find her real killer. (The film is based on the book by Joe Hill.)
Radcliffe plays Ignatius, or Ig, accused of murdering the woman he loves and no one believes him except for his lawyer and a local bartender. After a drunken hook-up with the bartender, Ig wakes up with horns sprouting from his head.
Now that he has these horns, everyone he comes into contact with seems to blurt out their deepest sinful truths, secrets, and fantasies before acting on them once he gives them permission. The horns seem to give him Satanic-like powers over people, including the power of persuasion.
The night his girlfriend Merrin (Juno Temple) died, she and Ig got into a fight at a diner because he was going to propose but she admitted to not being in love with him anymore. The next morning, Merrin is found with her head bashed in and Ig is found drunk and passed out in his car. From an outsider’s perspective, he understandably looks completely guilty. It is only as the story progresses that we see how everything went down.
When given the opportunity to review a film made by Alexandre Aja, the same man responsible for such horror greats as The Hills Have Eyes (2006), High Tension and Maniac (2012), it wouldn’t seem wise to pass it up. Aja’s films have some of the most impressive and creative uses of gore while instilling fear beyond the simplicity of jump scares. While he is most famous for his remakes of classic horror movies, his remakes are amongst some of the best, securing him a spot on my short list of this decade’s most creative and talented new horror writers/directors.
Throughout Horns, you will notice quite a few religious references. Beyond the obvious horns, Ignatius gets his name from Ignatius of Antioch, a student of John the Apostle who was martyred, not unlike his character. Ignatius is followed by snakes, the symbol of the devil as Satan was cast out of Heaven and forced to roam the Earth like a snake. The diner is even called Eve’s with a giant apple as its symbol. Yet, despite all of these references, you do not feel like you are bombarded with religion.
Daniel Radcliffe surprised me as Ignatius. I never thought I could see him as anything but Harry Potter, having spent a decade of my life watching him grow up as the British wizard child. This new side of Radcliffe was exactly what I needed to break free of that vision of him. Perhaps it is what everyone needs in order for him to have the career he truly deserves to have now that he is an adult.
In terms of supporting cast, Aja hit the nail on the head. Joe Anderson, an incredibly under-appreciated actor, plays Ig’s brother Terry. There is a drug scene, very reminiscent of Across the Universe, which reminded me why Anderson really should get more roles.
Max Minghella plays Lee, Ig’s friend and lawyer. Upon perusing his IMDb page, I realize I have never seen a single thing he was in but, after his performance in Horns, I may be inclined to change that. He is obviously a very versatile actor, capable of many personalities.
There are also appearances by such recognizable faces as James Remar (Dexter), Kathleen Quinlan (The Hills Have Eyes), David Morse (The Green Mile), and Heather Graham (Boogie Nights).
After the horror flops that were Piranha 3D and Mirrors, Horns is the perfect return for Aja, showing off his true creativity and talent. The film delivers on all fronts with humor, gore, horror and the expected love story. While the ending was a bit predictable, being that I called the killer from the start, it was still very fun to watch it all unfold as Ig sought out and got his revenge on Merrin’s murderer. In fact, I have the film on a 48 hour rental and plan to watch it again before it expires.
Horns is now playing in select theaters across the country and is available to rent on demand from Amazon.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Ann Hale is the horror editor for Pop-Break.com and a senior contributing writer, reviewing horror movies and television shows. She is also the American Correspondent for Lovehorror.co.uk. Ann attended East Carolina University, majoring in English Literature. She is a collector of Halloween (the film) memorabilia and is a self-admitted opinionated horror nerd. You can follow her, her collection and her cat, Edward Kittyhands on Twitter and Instagram @Scarletjupiter