Horns

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Ignatius “Ig” Perrish is the prime suspect when his girlfriend Merrin is raped and murdered. Despite his declarations of innocence, he is shunned by the community, and only his childhood friend and lawyer Lee seems to believe him. He stays with his parents and brother Terry, hiding from the press. After a vigil led by Merrin’s father, who believes Ig to be guilty, Ig drinks heavily and wakes up with a pair of horns protruding from his head. While at his doctor to try and remove his horns, Ig, under anesthesia, dreams of his childhood, when he first met Merrin after the death of her mother. A young Ig and his friends play with cherry bombs near the docks; Ig risks a dangerous dare to win a cherry bomb, and nearly drowns, but is saved by Lee. He later trades the cherry bomb with Lee in exchange for fixing Merrin’s broken necklace; however, Lee loses two fingers when the cherry bomb goes off accidentally. Ig and Merrin bond over the fixed necklace and fall in love, frequenting a treehouse in the woods together.

The horns are revealed to force people around Ig to tell him their darkest secrets and desires. Ig goes to visit his parents, but under the power of the horns his mother reveals that she doesn’t want him as her son, while his father tells him that he is worthless without Merrin. Ig goes to a bar, where he goads the reporters into a brawl and attempts to find evidence that he didn’t kill Merrin. Ig gets three people to confess their darkest secrets, leading the bartender to burn down his bar. From one of his confessions he also learns that the new witness for the prosecution is from the diner where Merrin had broken up with him the night she died. Ig finds the waitress, and discovers that she has been fabricating her stories to become famous. When Ig talks to Terry, he learns that Terry had driven Merrin from the diner the night she died. Touching Terry’s skin, Ig sees what happened that night: Merrin left the car en route to her home and ran into the woods; Terry passed out in the car, and woke up the next morning with a bloody rock in his hand before finding Merrin dead under the treehouse. Afraid that he would be implicated, he threw the rock away and fled. Infuriated, Ig brutally assaults Terry until he is arrested by a police officer, another childhood friend named Eric. The next morning Ig is released from jail with Lee’s help, discovering that Lee had been wearing Merrin’s cross necklace and as a result couldn’t see Ig’s horns.

Ig realizes that snakes are following him wherever he goes, and uses them to exact vengeance against the waitress. He also forces Terry to overdose on drugs, causing Terry to be tormented with memories of Merrin’s death. Ig meets Lee by the docks and pulls off Merrin’s necklace; exposed to the horns, Lee falls under their influence, admitting he killed Merrin. In flashbacks, it is shown that Lee was also in love with Merrin and was deeply jealous of Ig throughout their childhood. Lee followed Merrin into the woods, thinking that she had broken up with Ig to be with him, and in a jealous rage he raped her, killed her with a rock—which he planted on Terry—and stole her necklace. As Ig sees all of this, Lee overpowers him and lights him on fire in his car, causing Ig to drive into the bay. To the authorities, Lee claims that Ig confessed to the crime and committed suicide. In reality, with the power of the horns, Ig survives, horrifically burned and disfigured.

Merrin’s father, who now believes Ig’s innocence, gives Ig the key to Merrin’s lock box. When Ig puts on Merrin’s cross, his body is restored and his horns disappear. In the box, he finds a note from Merrin that explains that she knew he was going to propose and wanted to accept, but she was dying from cancer and didn’t want him to suffer through what her father did, so she pushed him away under the pretense of loving someone else. Ig confronts Lee, who does not remember their earlier fight, and leads him into the woods where Merrin was killed. Meanwhile, Eric and Terry arrive, intent on arresting Lee. Lee confesses to the murder, but then gleefully kills Eric and injures Terry. Ig tears off the necklace, sprouting a pair of wings and bursting into flame, transforming into a demonic monster. Despite Lee mortally wounding him, Ig impales Lee on one of his horns and telepathically orders a snake to slide down Lee’s throat, fatally suffocating him. Stating that his vengeance was all-consuming, Ig dies from his injuries and his smoldering corpse slowly cools and turns to hardened ash, and appears to be reunited with Merrin in the afterlife.

REVIEW:

A first glimpse at Horns and one would think this is perhaps a retelling of a Shakespeare work, at least that’s what I thought until I read what it was about. Now that I’ve watched the film, I can say that my initial notion could not have been further from the truth. I’m sure there are those out there, the few that have even heard of this flick, thinking various things about it. Well, how about we find out what kind of film this really is, shall we?

What is this about?

Not only is Ig Perish accused of murdering his girlfriend, he’s sprouted a set of horns in this horror-fantasy starring Daniel Radcliffe. The affliction quickly becomes an aid when Ig realizes his budding knobs compel people to reveal their sins.

What did I like?

Potter, no more. Daniel Radcliffe has been trying to escape the stigma of being Harry Potter. I think he is now in his late 20s/early 30s and people are still calling him Potter. Every non-Potter role he has taken has been something very adult, such as his stint on Broadway in Equus, where he had to bare all. As this character, Ig, I feel he has made even further strides to distance himself from “the boy who lived”, as he gives an outstanding performance, nuanced with pain, suffering, hate, and a thirst for vengeance, as well as hurt and confusion from a town and friends that have turned on him.

Nothing to see here. As much as I hate to admit this, if I were to see someone walking around town with a full grown pair of horns, I would wonder wtf?!? Human nature is to inquire, I suppose. The filmmakers decided to go against that, though, and the horns were about as much of an issue as someone in a wheelchair and/or missing limbs. Yes, people look, but then they go about their business. The horns don’t become an issue until he begins to use their power, be it on purpose or accident, to get people to spill the beans, as it were.

Progression. This is not a slow moving film. As a matter of fact, it actually progresses at a decent pace. I was expecting some sort of slow, indie drama type of movement, but that wasn’t the case at all. I can really appreciate how this faster tempo keeps the audience interested because, let’s face it, had this been one of those indie dramas, we’d all have fallen asleep in one of those flashbacks and not awakened until the credits, or maybe that would just have been me.

What didn’t I like?

Tone. There is a question of which genre this film wants to take. Does it want to be a horror movie? Drama? Comedy? Fantasy? Some combination of genres? Once it figures out the genre, then we can talk tone, because this is a film that actually does a good job of keeping a steady tone throughout, but in places it just wanders off into light or dark territory and we just don’t know what to think. Had the filmmakers settled on which parts of the film need to be lighter and which parts need to be darker, stuck with that, and then maybe inserted a joke or two in for comic relief, we may have had a better idea of what they were going for, instead, it is all over the place.

Language. In the second half of the film, people are cursing, we see Juno Temple naked, and there is a flashback of boys looking at a Playboy. In the first half, though, I felt like I was watching a Saturday morning teen show where they want to get across the idea of cursing, but not actually do it. What is the difference between the two halves of the film? Had one been when they were kids, I would totally understand, but both instances were when they were adults! It kind of goes back to the inconsistent tone, if you think about it.

Play that thing. Ig’s brother is a musician of some sort, a trumpet player to be precise. In movies, when it comes to playing an instrument, there are those that take the time to learn the instrument, those that can at least fake it, and then there are those that just seem to hold a horn and mimic what they’ve seen in a couple of videos. That is what I feel the actor playing Ig’s brother did. As a trumpet player myself, I can pick out a faker, and this guy wasn’t even close to playing. It was like they changed his character to a musician at the last minute and told him to do what he can. WTF?!?

Final verdict on Horns? I have had this on my streaming queue for a while now and everytime I get ready to watch it, I decide to go with something else for fear this would bore me to death. I almost did the same thing tonight, but gave it a chance. I am not sorry I took that chance. This is a film that is not what it seems. Apparently, it is based on a book. I need to track that down and read it. I’m curious as to what differences there are. Do I recommend this? Yes, while it my not be everyone’s cup of tea, this is an enjoyable film that not many people know about. Check it out sometime.

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

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