Director: Alexandre Aja
Writers: Keith Bunin (screenplay), Joe Hill (based on the novel by)
Stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Juno Temple, Max Minghella
Plot: In the aftermath of his girlfriend’s mysterious death, a young man awakens to find strange horns sprouting from his temples.
Running Time: 2 hours
Rotten Tomatoes: Critics 41% Audience 49%
Why I watched it: It’s a horror film and Alexandre Aja is a solid genre director.
Random Thoughts: This is based on the book of the same title by Joe Hill and just in case you didn’t know he’s the son of Stephen King, you might have heard of him. I kind of waited to watch this cause I wasn’t sold on the plot and also I must say the running time of 2 hours scares me for a genre film and I’ll let you in on a little secret I’m not a huge Daniel Radcliffe fan, he’s fine but he doesn’t blow me away and this film seemed to be marketed as hey look Harry Potter has horns growing out of his head, isn’t that weird.
What I liked: The cast is very good and pretty much everyone is good here, I will say I didn’t buy Radcliffe at first but he’s very good here as the film goes along he gets better and better, he does carry this film and this weird premise. I also liked Joe Anderson, he’s such an underrated actor and he’s done some good genre work here he’s a supporting character but he gets an arc and he’s very good. Also nice to see David Morse and I liked that he isn’t a stock character, he’s the grieving father but he’s a person not a cliche.
The horns didn’t work for me but the gift of having people tell you the truth and to have power is a cool horror device and the film milks it for all it’s worth. At the core the film is a murder mystery, people think Radcliffe killed his girlfriend and he’s trying to find out who did. Since we’re with him the whole time the mystery isn’t did he do it but who did. Now Radcliffe does the horror stuff and the weird very well, he picks up on his new powers and goes with it.
Now I think the most interesting part of the plot is for a person who is going through this terrible thing to actually find out what the people in their life thinks of them, to be able to know what people are thinking and what they honestly believe. There’s a good scene with James Remar who plays Radcliffe’s father he tells him he believes in him and all that then he tells them the truth and it’s brutal and this really works, we see what the truth does to Radcliffe. Knowing is hard.
The story is trying to find out the truth and what a person has to go through to get at the truth. There’s the one level of what committed the murder and then there’s who are these people I’m with, my family, friends, people I deal with, what do they think of me and what are they really like.
What I didn’t like: This film is a very mixed bag cause some stuff is very good but others man it just seems at odds. The big thing that will bother people is the Horns, it’s the title of the movie and it’s the main plot, how did he get the horns and why. We never find out just to let you know, it’s not a spoiler cause they don’t address it at all. Sure they’re Devil horns and he also by the third act he has snakes that travel with him but why? He’s solving a murder it would make sense if he was the killer and the horns represent evil but like I said they never play with him being the killer. The throw religion in here, and there seems to be a cross that represents goodness but it doesn’t click at all. I was left confused because the movie treats the horns and he’s new power has a plot device, and it works but it feels at conflict with the main story.
Also the human element here is mixed as well, look the main character lost his one true love, he’s looked at as the killer, so he should be dealing with grieve and guilt but the films fails to really show us who the girlfriend was as a person, Juno Temple plays her and she’s fine but she’s not fleshed out at all, she’s the girl friend the price he won. We get flashbacks but we never see what it is about him she loves.
The other element that didn’t work for me was the character played by Max Minghella, it’s the only not great performance in the film, he’s miscast and the character is badly written. He’s a childhood friend and also Radcliffe’s lawyer, the scenes with him are clunky as hell and I don’t by him as a lawyer or a good friend.
The ending is really over the top and I won’t spoil it but if you’ve seen any other movie in your life you’ll figure out who the killer is and yes they use the talking killer cliche to flesh out why they did it. The finale doesn’t work for me and it’s a letdown.
Final Thoughts: The film is a mixed bag and I have strong mixed feelings cause there’s parts I really like and it’s a watchable movie even at 2 hours, the only way to describe it would be to compare it to doing a 1000 piece puzzle and you get almost finished and there was 3 pieces missing, you know the puzzle and you had fun putting it together but at the end it’s not finished and feels incomplete and empty. With that, It’s worth a watch if you’re a genre fan.