Perhaps Alexandre Aja’s most ambitious film to date, Horns delivers moments of pure horror bliss only to be outdone by its over-the-top narrative, spending too much time meandering through one silly moment after the next. And although it’s quite entertaining at times, Horns can’t seem to figure out what kind of movie it wants to be. In the film, a young man wakes up to a pair of horns growing from his head after the death of his girlfriend. With the horns comes the newfound power of people confessing to him their deepest and darkest secrets.
Horns deals with a very powerful and horrifying subject as it roots itself in the story of a girl being brutally beaten to death in the woods. Her boyfriend, Ig, was the last one to see her alive, convincing the townspeople that he’s the one who committed this terrible crime. And although Ig knows he’s an innocent man, he walks the streets feeling the pressure of guilt and sadness as he’s constantly being told to confess a crime he did not commit. A setup like that can find a comfortable home in any horror movie because it’s all too real. With its devilish twist, Horns is a unique slice of cinema that will no doubt find an audience within the horror genre and well beyond it.
The interesting thing about Aja’s adaptation of Joe Hill’s novel—and I did not see this coming—was that it pours a pitch black layer of comedy over its dark subject matter. And while the comedy does work in parts, I found it hard to really get immersed in these characters because it bounces around too much between being funny and being serious. It’s a weird mix of horror and comedy that works as often as it doesn’t. It’s like the film wanted to be a serious take on what a man is willing to do to find out the truth about the woman he loved as much as it wanted to have fun with its devil-driven powers. Had Aja stuck with one or the other, we’d have an entirely different movie on our hands. But because it shifts around so much in its tone, we have an uneven story without much of an identity. It’s fun and entertaining when it wants to be, but beyond that there really isn’t much to hold on to.
One of the most intriguing elements from Horns, though, was the notion of Alexandre Aja working with Daniel Radcliffe; that’s not exactly a duo you would ever expect to see out of the genre. Sporting a pair of devilish horns and an American accent, Radcliffe’s performance was solid through and through, especially during the film’s final moments when he fully embraces the power of his horns. Ig is such a cool character that really comes to life thanks to Radcliffe, who continues to think out side of the box when it comes to choosing movie roles. Hopefully this isn’t the last time we see him dip his toes in the horror genre.
Horns is a unique and ambitious adaptation with a story of love at its core that comes to life through a man with the power of the devil. That concept is what really drives this film and I think Aja did a solid job of taking Hill’s crazy story and lifting it out of the pages and onto the screen. Certainly no easy task, that’s for sure. And while the film’s final moments get tripped up by questionable cgi, it’s a hell of a little film that I think is going to hit the mark with a lot of people.