HTS Moderator , Reviewer
HTS Overall Score:77
Daniel Radcliffe is one of those people who’s been viewed as the “odd man out” ever since the “Harry Potter” franchise that made him a childhood millionaire overnight. Kind of like Levar Burton always being viewed as Geordi, or whatnot, Daniel Radcliffe has been viewed as Harry Potter, making it difficult for him to really gain his own brand in the acting community. Lately he’s been taking some indie and off the wall stuff in an effort to stretch his proverbial wings and see what he’s capable of. In this latest effort I have to say he’s shattered that Harry Potter image quite nicely and, if given the chance, may very well turn a new leaf in the public eye, much like Ben Affleck and Leonardo DiCaprio.
“Horns” tells the story of Ig Parish (Radcliffe) and his search for the murderer of his girlfriend, Merrin (Juno Temple), of which he is being blamed. Most people have given up on poor Ig, convinced that he’s guilty of the horrific crime and ready to start the lynch mob. Even his own parents seem to doubt him, even while doing their best as parents to shield him. The only one who believes him is his childhood friend, Lee (Max Minghella), who also happens to be his defense attorney. Ig’s journey takes a drastic turn when one morning he starts to grow horns out of his head. Shocked and horrified Ig watches as people around him start spouting out their deepest, darkest and most evil secrets they’ve kept buried within themselves, never letting the rest of the world know. Confused, he stumbles around town wondering why everyone seems to be going insane whom he comes into contact with, until it occurs to him. HE and his horns are having this effect on people. It seems that the horns give him the power to let people’s guards down and they are compelled to reveal their innermost and darkest secrets, whether that be greed, hate, lust, violence, etc.
Once this realization becomes clear, Ig knows that he can use this power to find out who killed Merrin. Going through town, our horned hero systematically starts from ground zero and works his way up forcing a confession from depths of people’s souls. He soon realizes that this is a two edged sword, for while he can force people to reveal those innermost evil desires and thoughts, those same desires and thoughts come from people he thought he knew and trusted. It’s the classic telepath dilemma. Knowing what desires and shameful thoughts WE deal with in our own heads, knowing what other people think would be almost unbearable. Ig soon finds out that dilemma has to wade through the pain of hearing words from other people’s mouths that he wish he didn’t know, even if some of them clear up the path to Merrin’s killer.
“Horns” has to be one of the most bizarre and unique genre mashups that I’ve seen in a long time. We have a Love story, blended with a murder mystery, blended with a heavy dose of horror and a dollop of fantasy. Yeah, you got that right, FOUR distinct and seemingly contradictory genres. One moment we have Ig and Merrin living again through the flashbacks and it truly is sweet. Juno Temple and Daniel Radcliffe sell that part of the story with incredible ease. You feel the sweetness and the connection the two share and it really makes Ig’s pain more palpable. The murder mystery aspect of the film works just as well, as romance and mystery many times go hand in hand. Ig’s tracking down of the killer and finding out who framed him for the crime is one of the more intriguing part of the spectacle. THEN comes in that mix of fantasy and horror with the inclusion of the horns and its powers. The horror and romance is probably the most surprising as Alexandre Aja does an exception job of keeping the viewer smiling over the sweetness of love and then wrapping themselves up in a blanket from the sheer disturbing nature of the horns powers, touched with a hint of black comedy. Our innermost things we struggle with are usually innermost for a reason, they’re not pretty thoughts and desires, and it can get REAL uncomfortable when you start hearing people spout them for all the world to hear and you can see the evil glee in their eyes as they say it. It’s definitely an R-rated type of film during those moments and definitely can be disturbing hearing what comes out of people’s hearts.
The film works incredibly well for the first two acts, with Ig realizing his new powers and then utilizing them to find out the killer’s identity and reason for Merrin’s death. However, the film falters in the third act as the movie tries to bring the whole “there’s a devil inside all of us” theory to a close with a full on apocalyptic level of fantasy as Ig finds out the killer’s identity and then unleashes his vengeance on him. I won’t spoil anything but suffice to say the redemption of certain people comes off as slightly clichéd and even the end feels a bit lackluster. It really feels as if the director played with the ideas that were bandied about in the first act and just ties them all together instead of exploring the intricacies and questions they bring to light.
Rated R for sexual content, some graphic nudity, disturbing violence, language and drug use
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=36209[/img]“Horns” comes to Blu-ray with a simply superb 2.39:1 AVC encoded disc for us to enjoy today. The film is a very dark and dreary film in its ambience, but the image never looks de saturated or devoid of detail as you can see everything to the utmost perfection. The woods hold a sort of shimmering glow to them that feels like the old fantasy world of Legend, but the town is somber and morose, feeling almost depressingly dark (which fits right in with the mystery and horror aspects of the film). Blacks are deep and inky, with no signs of crush or lack of shadow detail, and the disc itself doesn’t suffer from any signs of compression artifacting in the slightest. An all-around excellent looking modern transfer. The only thing I can really complain about is a lack of contrast in certain scenes, but I honestly can’t tell if that’s a stylistic decision or an artistic one.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=36217[/img]The single 5.1 DTS-HD MA track present on the disc creates a wonderfully nuanced and creepy auditory experience. One moment we hear the soft sounds of a melody that underlies the romantic aspect of the film only to be interrupted a moment later with that sort of 90’s rock that adds a harsher element to the mood. Dialogue is clean and clear as can be, with no issues relating to balance or limiting nature of the front soundstage. The rears light up with a billion different noises, from the creaking of the tree fort, to the rustling of branches in the woods. Little noises like the clicking of a car lock are perfectly replicated and show some great directionality, creating a very immersive feel. LFE is pulsing and throbs below the surface of the entire film, never blasting you out like an action movie, but adding this thick layer that makes it feel as if you could cut the tension with a literal knife. The track is incredibly detailed, filled with little nuances that give the film a life of its own and greatly enhances the mood of the film. Basically, a near perfect track.
• The Making of "Horns"
As I mentioned above, “Horns” is a very unique and sometimes very bizarre genre mashup. Horror aficionados won’t get a ton of REAL gory horror, people looking for a light fantasy romance will be disappointed, but those of you who enjoy the bizarre and sometimes downright disturbing world where all 4 of the genres get equal play, then you very well may just check this one out. It is by no means a bad film, but it’s a very unique genre fit and the third act is the weakest link in the chain here, giving that feel of “what might have been”. Still I had a good time swapping between warm and fuzzy and deeply disturbed at the flip of a switch for 2 hours and the technical specs on the disc are exceptional. Recommended for fans of the bizarre.
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Juno Temple, Max Minghella
Directed by: Alexandre Aja
Written by: Keith Bunin (screenplay), Joe Hill (Novel)
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, French, Spanish DD 5.1
Studio: Starz/Anchor Bay
Runtime: 120 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: January 6th 2015
Buy Horns Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: For those who like the bizarre
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