IN THE SPOOKLIGHT: HORNS (2013)

HORNS (2013), a horror movie by director Alexandre Aja, based on the novel by Joe Hill, is supposed to be part comedy, and yet, for me, the biggest flaw of this movie is that as it goes along, it simply takes itself way too seriously. Not the best comedic strategy.

And it’s also way too long.

In HORNS, Ig Perrish (Daniel Radcliffe) has an interesting problem. After his lifelong girlfriend Merrin (Juno Temple) is murdered, and he is implicated in the crime, he grows a pair of horns on his head. And with these horns, he seems to possess the power of Satan, because whatever he says, people will do. Right there and then.

But Ig is too deep in grief over the violent death of his girlfriend to think much about the horns on his head, other than to wonder why he suddenly has them. Instead, he is focused on proving his innocence and finding out who in fact did murder Merrin.

I enjoyed HORNS the most when the story dealt with Ig’s horns and how they affected people around him. There a lot of very funny scenes here, although most occur in the first half of the movie. As the film goes on, it gets bogged down in the plot of Ig solving the case of Merrin’s murder, and the longer it follows this course, the less interesting the film becomes. Mostly because unlike the high concept of Ig’s horns, the murder story is pretty standard and quite frankly a bore.

Although I’m not a fan of the HARRY POTTER movies, I do enjoy Daniel Radcliffe as an actor, and he’s very good here as Ig. Again, his best scenes are when he’s dealing with his horns. The scene where he goes to the doctor for help with those horns is a keeper. Other films in which I have enjoyed Radcliffe include THE WOMAN IN BLACK (2012) and SWISS ARMY MAN (2016).

The rest of the cast is hit or miss.

Juno Temple is okay as Merrin, a character whose name, incidentally, is a reference to Father Merrin from THE EXORCIST (1973), while Joe Anderson is very good as Ig’s drug-addicted brother Terry, who wants to look out for his kid brother but is always messing things up. Max Minghella starts off fine as Ig’s best friend and lawyer Lee, but as the plot unfolds, the character becomes far less interesting and much less believable.

Both Kathleen Quinlan and James Remar enjoy fine moments as Ig’s parents, as does David Morse as Merrin’s grieving dad, and he gets some of the better scenes in the movie.

Keith Bunin wrote the screenplay, based on Hill’s novel, and it works best when it plays things light and comical. When it gets serious, it gets tedious.

I have mixed feelings about Alexandre Aja as a director. I liked his remake of THE HILLS HAVE EYES (2006) well enough and really enjoyed the recent CRAWL (2019), but I hated PIRANHA 3D (2010) which a lot of folks loved. I thought it was way too over the top and all rather dumb. I’d place HORNS somewhere in the middle of these movies. There were parts I liked, the humor, for instance, and parts I didn’t like, the standard murder mystery plot.

HORNS isn’t a bad horror movie. It’s just not a very good one.

Simply put, while it was an okay diversion for a couple of hours, it’s certainly not a film that I would honk my horn at.

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