Ig Perrish is a troubled young man. Suspected of the violent murder of his girlfriend, he becomes an outcast to the whole town whilst police investigate the crime. However, after a night of drinking, Ig awakens to find horns growing out of his head. Initially concerned, he quickly discovers his new appendages have the ability to drive people to confess their sins and give in to their own temptations, and so he decides to use his new ability to investigate the murder himself, clearing his own name and, more importantly, getting revenge.
The film has a youthful earnestness that could be taken as naïve in some respects (most specifically when painting the picture of Ig and Merrin’s fairy tale-esque love story), but these scenes are often juxtaposed with scenes of a completely different cadence, so whatever spell is woven is quickly broken. That the film has various swipes at religion, media and celebrity culture feels more like director Alexandre Aja is taking opportunistic satirical jabs rather than having it all be of a more coherent direction. That said, there is a heart in there. It’s often buried under too much stylistic flourish and dark humour, but there is a story in there that looks to ruminate on loss and heartache. It would just be nice to see it a bit more.
At the very least, Horns can’t be too harshly judged on a performance level. Of the whole cast, there isn’t really a bad apple in the bunch, but it’s Daniel Radcliffe that does probably the best work of all, or at least the most admirable. Since everyone else mostly exists only within their own scenes, they are free from most of the constraints of arc and development, and so escape from the jarring sense of tonal clashes. Radcliffe, however, has the tough job of pulling the audience along on the journey and so has to navigate the mood as it shifts from scene to scene with sometimes near audible clunks. He does stand up to the task, though, managing to turn in a performance that whilst it probably won’t ever be the thing to wipe the memory of the Potter boy from your mind, will be enough to show that he has come a long way since his most famous role.
Horns isn’t really a bad movie, and is certainly representative of some of the more original notions to come onto our screens recently, though in honesty there is much in the film with which to find fault. It’s something of a clumsy mess, but beneath the wry smirking and violent streak, there is a heart beating beneath those horns. It too often loses sight of that, so it ultimately feels a bit cobbled together, but in the moments when it all focuses on that one core aspect, you see something in Horns that many probably won’t expect.