It's very hard for a movie to marry different genres in itself. Usually, horror is pretty adaptable and able to mix pretty well with any other kind of influence. You have everything from horror comedies, to horror sci-fi, even horror romance. You can't usually do that successfully with other genres. For example, you don't see a whole lot of romantic comedies that have just super twisted horror elements. The best movies don't let themselves be tied down by those labels, and allow everything to just go with the flow. That's what I absolutely love about Alexandre Aja's "Horns". On the surface, it's a horror movie about a murder and revenge. But when you get inside of it, it's so much more than that. It's equal parts horror, a murder mystery, a romance, a fairy tale, a revenge flick, and has parts that will make you laugh your ass off.
Based on a novel written by Joe Hill (Stephen King's son), "Horns" tells the tale of a young couple, Ig (short for Ignatius) and Merrin, who are so incredibly and passionately in love with one another that even Nicholas Sparks would swoon. Their relationship is the foundation this entire story is built on, and thankfully, the acting is impeccable. Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe, is Ig Perrish, and Juno Temple is Merrin, the love of his life since childhood. They truly have more chemistry than most real life couples do. When the movie begins, we find out that Merrin has been murdered and the entire town thinks that Ig is the one who killed her. While he professes his innocence, no one believes him. Reporters stalk him at home, follow his every move, he is made out to be a horrible guy. Probably so much so, that he even begins to question himself. What if he did get so wasted drunk that he accidentally killed her and just doesn't even remember? We're able to put the pieces together fairly on to determine that he actually didn't do it, but then who did? Ig has vowed to find out who killed her and make them pay.
After a binge of drinking and anger, he goes to a makeshift memorial for Merrin, and in his desperation, he desecrates the memorial. He kicks and stomps and even pees on it, cursing God for what has happened. After being consoled by Glenna, a woman who is a true friend to him, he wakes up the next morning, in bed with her, and goes to look in the mirror. He has started sprouting a real deal pair of horns. This is where things begin to take a shift. When talking to Glenna, she says she can see the horns, but everything she says to him are things that are truth, her inner voice's ideas. For example, she asks him if it's okay if she just goes ahead and eats the entire box of donuts she has. He can't really understand what's going on. Being concerned with the horns, he goes to the doctor. It becomes hilarious because apparently, with the horns, everyone that talks to him tells him their honest to goodness truths and secrets. There are a few hilarious scenes involving the waiting room and then actually going in to the doctor's, where he's put to sleep while the doctor tries to remove them. During his time out, we see some very revealing flashbacks. We go back to when Ig and Merrin were kids. Ig and his older brother and their friends were almost like the Goonies or the kids from "Stand By Me". We see a particular time where Ig gets trapped under water, and his friend, Eric, jumped in and saved him. Eric, who is now Ig's lawyer, is one of the few that believes him.
Ig's horns keep growing, and after a conversation with Eric, who doesn't notice the horns. This leads him to believe the this whole truth thing doesn't work on good people, just bad ones. Shortly hereafter, Ig discovers that with the power of his horns, he can pretty much convince anyone to do anything. We get a few hilarious scenes showing this off, including one where he's being haggled by a group of reporters and photographers, and tells them to beat the shit out of each other and the winner gets to interview him. I'm not going to go into the in's and outs of every little thing that happens because the way that everything begins to fall into place is just organically fantastic. Every time a flashback is shown, it starts to piece every little thing together. We find out exactly what happened with Merrin, who killed her, why, it all plays out. There is a pretty heartbreaking twist where the night Merrin died, she had broken up with him, and the details behind all of that and how it played into her being killed was actually pretty intense. After we find the true killer, Ig is left to die, but comes back having transformed even further with his devilish appearance. He's hell bent on dishing out revenge, and by the time we get our final confrontation, Ig is in full out badass Satan mode. I LOVE the design of his look, the special effects are spot on, and his physical transformation is just so creative.
We ultimately get our somewhat fairy tale ending, I think. Since I first seen this movie, it just struck a chord with me. I've been a fan of the director, as he directed two of the better horror movies of the last several years (High Tension and The Hills Have Eyes remake), but with this not being a straight up violent and disturbing horror movie, I wasn't sure how he would translate. And I couldn't have been happier. I have not read the novel, but in the making of featurette, it was so apparent that Aja was a huge fan, and painstakingly made it his mission to do a great version. When it came out, I remember it getting somewhat lambasted in reviews, and I still scratch my head. Each of the story elements are told to near perfection, and it's obviously one of those movies that truly does have something for everyone. The love story, the mystery, the fantasy element. I have told everyone that I know that they need to watch this movie. It has a timelessness element to it, and I hope it's one of those that finds it's audience in time.
"Horns" gets 9 David Bowie records out of 10!
Here's the original trailer: