I don’t know how many people have heard of the movie Horns. I personally haven’t seen any trailers or advertising for it and only knew of it thanks to a random mention of it online. Even then, the only things revealed about the movie were that it starred Daniel Radcliffe and that he has horns. I didn’t even know when the movie came out so it wasn’t on my radar. Until yesterday when an opportunity to see Horns came my way and I thought “What the Hell?”. It was definitely an advantage not knowing anything about the movie. So in order to try and preserve the unexpected surprises in Horns I’ll avoid major spoilers.
Obviously we all watched the star of Horns, Daniel Radcliffe grow up playing Harry Potter. I’m not a fan of the money printing establishment collectively known as Harry Potter. I’ll spare that ranting diatribe for another time, suffice it to say that whole franchise can go stuff their wand up their chamber of secrets. The reason I don’t like Harry Potter has nothing to do with the casting of the movies, indeed the performances were the main reason I paid to see all eight movies in theaters. But it seems clear to me that Radcliffe is doing whatever he can to distance himself from Harry Potter (who can blame him?). He stripped down in the play Equus, and got all Victorian-gothic for The Woman in Black, which is worth watching. He’s also done a guest spot on The Simpsons. I realize that a man in his 30’s who knows this much about Radcliffe’s career may arouse some suspicions. Let me just say that I watched all this stuff, for science.
Anyway it’s refreshing to see Daniel in a different type of role. In Horns he’s all grown up, playing a character called “Ig” who curses, smokes cigarettes, swills liquor, has a one night stand, and desecrates a religious statue, and that’s just in the first 20 minutes. I’m so used to seeing Daniel play Mr. Perfect, I really enjoyed seeing him play someone who’s flawed, confused, and tormented. It must be said however that there are a few instances where he struggles with the American accent and sounds robotic. Other than that it is a great performance. The rest of the cast isn’t as recognizable which is a good thing since you see everybody as the character they’re playing, not as some famous person. There’s two cameos that are exempt; one is David Morse, you won’t recognize the name but you will recognize the face. He’s that man that’s been in a ton of movies and hasn’t aged in like 25 years, how’s he do that? The second is Heather Graham she has some crazy and cliché dialog but she delivers it with such enthusiasm its hilarious.
In fact it’s surprising how funny Horns is, it isn’t strictly a comedy but there are a lot of black comedy moments in it. Clearly a movie called “Horns” is going to have references to religion and particularly Hell, but this movie doesn’t take itself too seriously and get all artsy fartsy with subtlety. The devilish images are up front and so obvious as to be funny. Some of the humor comes from just seeing how casually people react to Danielle / “Ig” having devil horns. There’s also a reverse catholic confession thing going on, where people unknowingly tell Daniel their inner secrets whether he wants to hear them or not. The main story of Horns is an interesting spin on a familiar trope and has a crime-drama / mystery-thriller format. So if you don’t have a dark since of humor like me there’s still a lot going on if you don’t get the jokes.
Now it’s time to do what the internet is great at, nit-picking imperfections. Some of the writing almost does what it tries to do. For example a woman talks about sleeping with her golf instructor and calls her lover’s black cock “my 5-iron”. That joke works much better with “9-iron”. This is a small example, but bigger pieces of the movie come so close to hitting their mark and miss at the last moment, it’s hard to describe without spoiling it. The movie uses too many songs that were made iconic by other movies. The moment is lost as the background music starts and you instantly are thinking about Fight Club or Austin Powers or whatever. Maybe I’m getting too old, or have seen too many movies, probably both. But Horns should play more obscure songs the audience hasn’t heard in a popular movie before. I also saw one of the final plot twists about an hour before the movie revealed it. Lastly I hate it when movies use narration to tell the audience what is clearly visible on the screen. Don’t tell me what I’m seeing or what I just saw. Narrators should stop being Captain Obvious and tell the audience what they can’t figure out for themselves.
In conclusion, for me Horns was an unexpected surprise. It was wonderfully twisted and original and the type of movie best enjoyed around this time of the year. I hope Daniel Radcliffe continues to do projects like this. This movie isn’t meant to be taken too seriously so don’t over think it and try to avoid learning too much about it. I hope reading this review doesn’t negate that last suggestion. I tried to only divulge little things.
P.S. Many times I was tempted to write wickedly awful puns in this post; The (blank) was sinful, So and so was devilish, It was a hell of a good movie. But I stopped at two, because it was too easy, and besides lazier people than I need those types of remarks for their tweets and rotten tomato comments.