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HORNS (2013): Review…A Truly Unique Film Experience

HORNS one of the most unique films of the year

I’m going to start off by saying HORNS, is not a horror film. It’s a very dark comedy/mystery flick and a very fine flick at that.

HORNS is about a guy Ig (Daniel Radcliffe) who is being persecuted by the town he lives in for killing his girlfriend, Merrin (Juno Temple), which have been deeply in love with since they were kids. As he pleads to everyone his innocence, no one believes him, even his parents. He awakes one morning with horns protruding from his head and everyone he interacts with begin to be blatantly honest, pouring out intimate secrets that Ig doesn’t ask for or want to hear.  As he begins to realize what’s going he begins to seek out people that were around his girlfriend the night she was murdered in the hopes that the horny truth will pour from their deceitful mouths. Some of these interactions are hilarious, like the news reporters getting into a physical fight over an exclusive interview with Ig, or the receptionist at the doctors office telling one patient to have her kid shut the fuck up.

Directed by Alexandre Aja (High Tension, Hills Have Eyes), one of my favorite modern film directors, you just know going into it it’s going to be a dark film. As I expected he  pulls off some amazing camera setups and camera moves that I have loved since High Tension. He doesn’t disappoint behind the camera here either, with cool 360 shots, slow motion “hero shots”, and fun, uneasy comedy, this film really worked for me.

The story, based on a Novel by Joe Hill and screenplay by Keith Bunin, is original and fun, but with a lot of super dark elements that has the film bordering a full on horror film. I have not seen a film (will a larger budget film) that has been this original and fun in a long while. There are plenty of flashbacks to when the characters were kids, reflecting a Stand By Me feel that I really enjoyed. The flashbacks also allow us to get to know the characters. In a lot of cases these flashbacks make us really  like most of these characters but as the story progresses you want to hate them, showing how people in real life grow up from innocent kids to adult douchebags.

There are a couple flaws here, one is the performance by Daniel Radcliffe. Though I have never seen any of the Harry Potter films, I’ve seen him in The Women In Black and thought he laid down a good performance. In Horns however, some of his performances in specific and crucial scenes seemed flat, like he didn’t really understand what his character was doing or going through. During these scenes, it felt like he was there trying to get through them to get to a scene he felt more comfortable doing. Not that his overall performance was bad, just some scenes he seemed lost.

Good Or Evil?

Probably the biggest and most disappointing was the CGI effects during the climax of the film. It’s disappointing to watch and really enjoy a movie all the way to the end, and then have it ruined by some very poor CGI (actually they could be amazing but CGI just looks fake 99% of the time). I don’t want to give away the ending, however, I hate it when a movie goes from an awesome live-action film to a fucking episode of Scooby-Doo in the matter of seconds. Yes these effects took me way out of the film and made me cringe in horror and not in a good way. I don’t know if Aja decided on this CGI sequence on his own or was forced to by the production company or something, but whoever decided this was the right way to go, was wrong and almost ruined one of the most unique films of the year. I would rather see poor practical effects any day of the week over poor CGI effects.

Besides the closing CGI effects, the movie is fantastic. There’s a really cool gross effect shot at the end that will really get your goat if you are a gorehound like me. I was pleasantly surprised by this unexpected gore shot and it worked well.

HORNS is definitely one to check out. For me personally, this is one for my collection.

HORNS 2013 Review: A Truly Unique Film Experience

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Chad Armstrong

President/Co-Owner at LC Films
Chad Armstrong is a writer/producer/director who was born and raised in Long Beach CA. In 2009 he relocated to Alabama where he founded LeglessCorpse, a site dedicated to independent horror films, and soon after created the indie horror distribution company LeglessCorpse Films (currently known as LC Films). Not only is he co-owner of and LC Films he is also President of the newly formed Back Aisle Video label. Chad's most recent feature film is Deimosimine, and currently in development on the feature film Blood Dancers 2: Full Moon.