Horns (2013)

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My exposure to Daniel Radcliffe is limited to “The Woman In Black” (liked it) and his appearances on late night TV talk shows, where he comes across as a surprisingly funny, decent and level-headed chap; I’ve never seen any of the Harry Potters or his stage work. Director Alexandre Aja is well known and loved by the ISCFC, but this seems a big leap for him.

So, you’ll have probably seen the trailer by now. Daniel Radcliffe is Ignatius, the prime suspect in the murder of his girlfriend Merrin (Juno Temple), and it’s sending him into a dark spiral, as basically no-one really believes he didn’t do it. One day, after a particularly bad evening, he wakes up with a pair of horns sprouting from his forehead, and these horns have two powers – people tell him their innermost thoughts, and ask him for permission to act on their darkest desires, making text what is subtext to us all. At first, he’s pretty frightened by his power, but then realises he can use it to influence people and find out who really killed Merrin.

The film is structured cleverly – rather than build up to the big reveal of the horns, it happens early on, with flashbacks coming later, showing the origin of their blissfully happy relationship, along with the bonds of childhood. In the present, we see both the effects of those childhoods and what people really think, deep down, both of their own lives and of Iggy’s innocence, which is often terribly sad, but played for laughs enough to sweeten the pot.

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As well as showing us how heartbreaking it would be to see into peoples’ souls and see the lives of quiet desperation we all lead, we get a surprisingly rich central relationship from a couple who barely share any screen time. We see the weird chains of causality that affect all of us, and we also get a surprisingly enjoyable central thriller. There are some fantastic performances in “Horns” too – as well as Radcliffe and Temple, both of whom completely nail it, David Morse as Merrin’s father and James Remar as Iggy’s are both top-drawer. Top marks though to Kelli Garner as Glenna, the token female in the group of friends growing up, whose story would be unbearably sad were it not for the ray of hope at the end. This film illustrates the famous quote from Confucius as well as anything I can think of in years, and shows how none of us should embrace our inner devil too much.

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It’s a heck of an achievement for the “Piranha 3D” guy. Okay, it’s not perfect – the actual resolution to the murder is a bit over-the-top, and the reason for Iggy and Merrin’s pre-murder fight seemed ever so slightly forced, but these are small potatoes. A film absolutely worth giving your time to.

Rating: thumbs up

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