Friday, 7 November 2014

Horns (2013) - Fantasy Film Review

I didn't know what to make of the trailer for Horns, it looked like it was going to be a strange film, I also didn't know if I would be able to take Daniel Radcliffe seriously having never seen him as anything but 'the boy who lived' before. Though completed in 2013 it has only just seen a cinematic release.

Radcliffe stars as Ig Perrish a troubled young man who is deep in grieving after his life long love Merrin was brutally murdered. Everyone in the small town he lives in is convinced that Ig is responsible for the death and so everywhere he goes he is hounded by the police, news reporters and the people of the town, even his family believe he did it. One day he awakes to find strange horns growing out of his head, he is horrified by this deformity but no one else in the small town seems to mind or even notice. Ig discovers that when he is around people they find themselves forced to tell him their deepest darkest secrets and desires, and with this new found ability of his he sets out to find out who the real murderer of Merrin is.

Horns is a real strange beast, at it's heart is a serious story, one that had real emotion behind it. There are constant flashbacks to happier times and not so happy times showing how Ig and Merrin fell in love during their lives. This is effective in really creating an emotional bond with the main character, I found myself imagining myself in his situation and how painful losing a loved one would be. These flashbacks also slowly reveal hidden truths and toy with what you have previously been told, such as if the relationship was as strong as it had been made out to be from Ig's perspective.

The other side of Horns is the whole horn thing itself. There is no explanation for the horns appearance or the power they give Ig and yet this power is essential for moving the more grounded plot forward. I wondered how people would react to this bizarre thing and the route gone down whereby people seem to really struggle to be able to see the growths is a sensible one. Much of the films humour comes from the people he meets unable to not tell him their sordid secrets and from his ability to make people do things for him such as one funny part when he convinces the news people following him to fight each other in order to secure an exclusive interview..

Set in a town bordering on a forest the film is a beautiful piece, I found myself thinking how amazing it would look on blu-ray, I may end up buying it just to look at the scenery. The soundtrack is also really good featuring a lot of David Bowie as well as other great sounding bands. This is not a horror though, it is more a mishmash of murder mystery and fantasy. The plot is really well handled, I cared for the main characters and found myself invested in the story, it is really heartfelt portraying such a real bond of love. The fantasy element on the other hand actually reminded me a bit of Jennifer's Body, both feature attractive main leads who find themselves with strange new powers they didn't want and both end up going down dark paths. There are a few scenes of horror but are few and far between.

There is a lot of religious imagery used throughout, from the obvious of Ig's horns making him look like a devil to more subtle things such as a cafe being called 'Eve's' and having an apple in it's logo. I was fascinated to find out each of the main characters cars licence plates refer to specific bible passages which reveal just what sort of person they really are. The town is full of religious people so there is lots of talk of punishment by God and biblical quotes but it never feels heavy handed in the use of this imagery.

Where Horns drops the ball though is its end sequence, at two hours long it is lengthy and I just felt the final sequence went on far too long and felt too unnatural. By the time the payoff comes it just goes too over the top, too much fantasy. In general the later demon sequences are quite ridiculous and take away from the sad plot line. Throughout there are just too many references to sex including a few needless sex scenes that served no purpose at all.

I thought Horns was an interesting film, and nearly a fantastic one, it certainly looks and sounds the part and I was surprised at how much Radcliffe has come on in his acting ability. On the negative side of things though the supernatural element does eventually end up getting in the way of a decent whodunit.


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