I fell in love with Joe Hill’s work after I read his debut novel, Heart Shaped Box (Hill is the son of famed horror novelist Stephen King). Since then, I read all of his books as they release, and constantly tell my Podcast buddies that they have to check this guy out. Hill’s weakest novel is Horns, which means I was not only disappointed when I found out that this was the movie that was being developed, but that the studios actually felt this was a better story to tell than Heart Shaped Box.
Ig Perrish (Daniel Radcliffe) wakes up one morning after a night of drinking and finds himself in the woods near where his girlfriend had been murdered. His girlfriend’s murder is a crime that he is being blamed for, but due to a lack of evidence, he’s still a free man. The other weird thing going on is the fact that he suddenly seems to be growing horns. If that isn’t strange enough, he quickly finds out that these horns have given him the ability to make people say what they are truly feeling.
This is where the book became a bit too silly for my liking, but Radcliffe is completely charming, and yet flawed, in the role of Ig. He really brings him to life, more so than the novel was able to do. These compulsions he brings out in people are the backbone to the story. They are a way for him to solve his girlfriend’s murder, but also add some laughter in an otherwise dark film. There are so many fun scenes born from this gift, and they never feel tacked on. Rather, they are a natural experience for Ig as his horns grow with his new ability. While not a true horror film, Horns walks the fine line of a murder mystery and a demonic possession film, and succeeds beyond my expectations.
Director Alexandre Aja, whom I love thanks to his slick remake of The Hills Have Eyes, again shows off his talents with Horns. The film moves at a brisk pace, with no wasted moments, and Aja’s ability to not only bring the best out of Radcliffe, but also each and every supporting cast member, shows he knows how to handle everyone in a scene. There’s a moment in a bar that offers a flash of someone’s manly bits that is just completely random, and surreal, and I loved it. I also enjoyed the scenes with the two cops; these are funny and natural without being insulting.
One aspect of Horns that I was worried about was how they were going to handle the special effects in the big finale. To avoid spoilers, I won’t go into any further detail here except to say that the CGI looks solid, and doesn’t feel over done at all.
Horns doesn’t offer a lot in the way of gore or scares, but instead delivers a fun and unique story. This is one of the few instances where I enjoyed the film more than the novel, and the fact that this is based off one of my favorite author’s work says a lot. It’s a shame that Horns didn’t get a full theatrical release as it could have done really well, more so than the other horror offerings we’re given this October.