And so I began with the Horn…… and no I am not writing a terribly scripted blue movie.
Of course I am talking about Alexandre Aja’s adaptation of Joe Hill novel. This is the first movie I have watched since starting this up…and well I don’t know what to make of it. I had seen the trailer before it was released and it had caught my attention…but yet I only got around to watching it now. Not cause I have been über busy or anything like that, it’s just that I didn’t know what to make of it and after watching it I think the film agrees.
Horns follows Ig (Daniel Radcliffe), as he tries to find out who murdered his girlfriend Merrin (Juno Temple). The neighbourhood and the media think Ig killed her, labelling him a Devil….and one day right on cue he even grows horns! Along with the horns Ig develops supernatural powers, one of which is the ability to make a person divulge their darkest secrets…all he has to do is ask. This leads him on a mission to find out who actually killed Merrin.
This is another of Radcliffe’s ‘Im not Harry Potter anymore’ roles were he picks another unconventional role in order to distance himself from the geeky, glasses wearing wizard, and when well I did like him in the movie…I still don’t know if he has mature enough yet as an actor. There were parts were I thought, ‘wow…he certainly isn’t the bathrobe wearing little boy who captured the hearts of so many’ (One rather explicit sex scene proved that)… at the same time there was a loss of connection between actor and character that made me want to shout ’10 points from Gryffindor!!!’.
Ok, enough with the Harry Potter references.… Horns is satirically funny in parts, yet strange and grotesque in others. It is miles apart from what both Radicliffe and Aja ( The Hills have eyes) fans are used to…and I like creative people who take risks, especially if it pays off. This however doesn’t ….
Horns tries to submerge you into this world of murder mystery (without being actually scary or mysterious), Fantasy (when you grow horns its save to say the box is ticked) , yet it never truly feels original and is often left with tonal shifts of mood were it tries to hard to be silly.
And that’s just it…it tries too hard! It’s not like I didn’t like the movie, I did…its just that it had the potential to be better. The plot is biblical to an extent that it’s over kill. Without ruining it for anyone who maybe reading this, Radcliffe’s character at one stage has horns, made friends with a snake, and his weapon of choice…a pitchfork! So there a horned devil, with a snake and pitchfork….Christ (pardon the pun). It would be like if in the most iconic scene in Star Wars, when Darth Vader reviled to Luke that he his infact his father…then presses that big red button on the front of his suit ( you know the one were you have always wondered what it actually does!!) and a fax comes stuttering out of the hole in his helmet that is in fact a copy of Luke’s birth cert…followed by R2-D2 suddenly appearing to project some home movies of the birth…truly heart-wreching….but I digress.
Don’t get me wrong I love subtle suggestion within movies and this is full of it! A lot is quite cleverly done such as the name Merrin for example which dates back to the crusades, deriving from the Hebrew ‘Maryam’.The meaning of Maryam is uncertain, but may have been ‘wished for’, as in a child…I found this ironical when Merrin in the movie stated that she didn’t want children. Or if you can look at it from a Roman origin or ‘Marius’, which relates to Mars the god of war…which if you watch the movie ties in well.
But that could be me looking into the detail a little hard…so I’ll conclude.
Horns is a fantasy murder-mystery that is also a black comedy…not only is that hard sentence to get your head around, but so is the film. The script is missing that something that makes a truly great movie…which as I said earlier saddens me, because it had some wonderful moments but as a whole just leaves you unfulfilled. I think it just needed more time to mature…same can be said about Radcliffe, who with time may just give us some great performances that’s really connect with the audience. Aja can also take away something from Horns, who showed glimpses of his gift for stunning yet brutal imagery even if this time he was short of the mark .