Directed by Alexandre Aja, staring Daniel Radcliffe, Juno Temple, Max Minghella, Joe Anderson, Kelli Garner and James Remar. Based on the popular book by Joe Hill, Iggy Parish is a man accused of his girlfriend’s murder, of course to add to the plot he has no what happened that night, and along the way discover new abilities he has manifested along with a pair of horns!
I am going to review this film in two parts. The first will be a look at this piece as an independent film with no connection to the source material. While the second part will be a closer look at a film based on the book by Joe Hill. I am doing this because Horns is one of my favourite books and though the film takes elements from it, too much has changed for me to give an accurate account of the film without giving some objection to things that I feel would have improved it.
Daniel Radcliffe excels at darker material, as seen with ‘Woman in black’. In horns his character is falsely accused of the murder of his girlfriend, so while he journeys into a darker place, his character relishes more and more his dark horns and the power they give him. It allows Radcliffe to show off his still growing acting ability with a dark sense of humour. A great soundtrack adds meaning as he has some serious fun enjoying his new found power; while also making it clear that the memory of Merrin (his deceased girlfriend) is what is keeping him from becoming too maniacal.
The film hints at his childhood, which had film time allowed would have added interest. Despite this the film focuses on his power and his effect on others, which is used to both horrify and electrify the audience with shocking moments, thus strengthening the plotline.
As seen in the trailer, his brother has a hard time in this film and the CGI used for a particular sequence is effective with brief flashes to Iggy (Radcliffe’s character) showing his dark enjoyment to us all and thus his journey further into evil.
The ending of the film is made weaker by a few moments that simply do not make sense within the context of the characters or the film.
Overall *** A good film with highlights on Iggy’s descent into darkness made more prominent by good choices and timing in music. As murder mystery the film would be quite bland, the horns add an interesting twist, Radcliffe is excellent as Iggy and with the help of the confessions allows the audience a dark but very fun feature.
RECOMMENDATION – With the cast in your mind, read the book, it has so much more to offer, which I can not recommend enough if you have a feel for the supernatural and darker materials. If that seems like too much trouble watch the film and go along with the plot for the novel approach to murder alone.
This is by far one of my favourite books due to how unique it is. This adaptations is somewhat of a frustrating experience as the characters are never quite as imagined, nor the way certain settings or areas are never quite as envisioned. However this is simply a fact of adaptation one must deal with, however this is so far away from book which I feel loses impact on screen but more importantly things were overlooked which I feel would have given more to the film.
From the start of the film we see changes, such as the book being set on the anniversary of Merrin’s death, but more importantly unexplained changes. In the book we are given the identity of the killer within the first few chapters thus removing any appearances of a murder mystery. The book itself more heavily focuses on the relationships between the main characters, with frequent flashbacks to their childhoods, which added interest. While I understand why the film did not focus on this aspect, it does frustrate, as the films narrative feels rushed and character development that should happen is lost. This is particularly an issue for one character as he is shown to be more sinister and psychotic in the book, in the film he is presented a deranged lover.
As well as Terry (Iggy’s brother) who is given an unusually hard time in the film which is in complete contrast to their relationship in the book. One of the more important elements of the book that should have been included in order to explain Iggy’s horns with greater clarity is the tree house (watch or read to understand that!). I feel this would have made for a very interesting plot point as it is the anchor both for Iggy and Merrin and for the narrative as a whole.
So as you can hopefully see, I am in two minds about the film. I think for those who have read the book and seen the film some lively discussions could be had.