Magazine article Screen International

Horns

Magazine article Screen International

Horns

Article excerpt

Dir: Alexandre Aja. U.S. 2013. 123mins

An uneven supernatural-thriller-drama mishmash, French filmmaker Alexandre Aja's latest slickly produced English-language film suffers from several inherent flaws. For the most part, Horns can't decide what it wants to be, whether genuine story of innocence lost, crude comedy or gory horror flick. Straddling all these different genres may have pushed the movie into the Toronto International Film Festival's more experimental Vanguard section, but the tonal shifts make for a film that's less avant-garde and more simply all-over-the-place.

Radcliffe's manic portrayal of Ig doesn't help the histrionic nature of the script.

With a recognisable cast, lead by Harry Potter's Daniel Radcliffe all grown up, strung-out and pasty-faced, as well as Juno Temple and Max Minghella, Horns has enough names and marketable special-effects elements to have some potential commercial appeal. But outside of fantasy festivals and midnight slots, this is not a movie that belongs in cinemas, but is more apt for downloads and DVDs.

Horns begins on familiar territory: Ig Perrish (Radcliffe), a young man living in a small mill town in Washington State, is the lead suspect in his longtime girlfriend's murder. But while setting out to prove his innocence, something weird happens: One morning, he discovers large devilish horns growing out of his head, and with them, a strange power that makes everyone around him reveal their cruelest thoughts and act on their most libidinous desires. Ig's doctor screws his nurse; his parents tell Ig they just want him to go away; a policeman admits to lusting after his male partner.

Though these true confessions help Ig in his quest to find the true identity of his girlfriend's killer, the gimmick wears thin. Furthermore, first-time feature screenwriter Keith Bunin doesn't make clear the rules he's set up for the horns. They appear to work on different people in different ways. And it's never clear why Ig develops the horns in the first place. If he's innocent, why does he become a devil? If he's a fallen angel, he's done nothing to make him fall in the first place.

To help explain at least some of the character's backstories and conflicts, there's an overlong flashback that takes place when they're teenagers. But these scenes are awkward and obvious, particularly the unearned sentiment between Ig and his first love Merrin (who grows up to be Juno Temple, later baring all for one gratuitous sex scene in a tree house). …

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