Horns – A tragic love story wrapped in a delightfuly black comedy topped with a bit of horror
Written by: Keith Bunin (screenplay) and Joe Hill (novel)
Directed by: Alexandre Aja
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Juno Temple, Joe Anderson, Max Minghella, Heather Graham, and David Morse
Alexandre Aja has long been known for his work in strictly one genre. Horror. He erupted onto the scene in 2003 with “High Tension” and followed it up in 2006 with a surprisingly good remake of “The Hills Have Eyes”. In his new film “Horns” (adapted from the novel of the same name by Joe Hill), he shows the film world what he can do outside the familiar confines of his beloved horror genre. And, he knocks it out of the park.
At it’s center, “Horns” is a tragedy. Ig (Radcliffe) is watching his life fall apart in front of him, after the mysterious murder of the love of his life Merrin (Temple). He is the only suspect in the case, and the media, townsfolk, and his own family all believe him to be guilty. He escapes his stresses with the help of a lot of alcohol and a one night stand with his friend Glenna (Kelli Garner), after which he wakes to find horns protruding from his head.
It doesn’t take long for Ig to discover that his horns are giving him some strange powers. Anyone he comes in contact with tells him all of their dirty secrets, and indulges in whatever sinful impulse they feel at the moment. This makes for many moments of hilarious dark comedy. It never fully goes to the comedic side though. There is a sadness in the film, and in Radcliffe’s Ig.
Aja masterfully blends horror, romance, tragedy, and comedy. Not an easy task at all. He is helped by an excellent cast, which in addition to strong performances by Radcliffe and Temple, benefits from a very strong supporting cast including Joe Anderson as Ig’s drug addicted brother, Max Minghella as Ig’s life long best friend, David Morse (in my opinion one of the most underrated actors in Hollywood) and Sabrina Carpenter as a young Merrin (you could almost believe her and Temple are sisters in real life).
Mix those performances with a good story, and put it all in the hands of a capable director and you get a beautifully unique comic fantasy that I cannot wait to watch again. I am anxious to see where Aja goes from here and what he could do with a larger budget. For now though, I will enjoy his work in “Horns”.