Ig Perrish (Daniel Radcliffe) met the love of his life, Merrin Williams (Juno Temple), when they were just children, and the two fell in love and shared everything together. Their romance seems idyllic, until one night when Merrin is found dead, the victim of a brutal rape and murder. Ig finds himself the prime suspect, his town, friends, and even most of his family shunning him. The heartbroken Ig maintains his innocence, to deaf ears.
And then, as the opening line of the novel by Joe Hill states, after he "spent the night drunk and doing terrible things," Ig wakes up to discover that two small horns have sprouted through his forehead. The horns are growing, and he doesn't seem to be able to remove them. They also seem to have a peculiar effect on other people — they bring out one's deepest and darkest desires.
Horns, directed by Alexandre Aja (Piranha 3D , Mirrors, The Hills Have Eyes) is at times quite great to look at. But exactly who is the movie for? It is not strictly horror. It has a quasi-religious subtext, although it doesn't go too far (or far enough) in that direction. It begins as a young/adult romance, but also includes a brutal rape/murder. It's not exactly a murder mystery, although the last third of the film mostly goes down that path. There are some clever biblical-themed in-jokes — check out the license plates on different character's cars, the diner Ig frequents is called "Eve's" — but the movie dances around a bit with its good/evil themes, too.
Hill, who is also an executive producer, conceals his parentage just about as successfully as Ig does his horns under a hoodie. The film has streamlined the story and focused more on presenting the mystery surrounding Merrin's death, than why exactly Ig has suddenly sprouted horns. Is Ig innocent or guilty? That never truly seems in doubt either.
The Blu-ray of Horns, with a running time of 120 minutes, has an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 (widescreen) and looks great on a large-scale high-definition television screen. Subtitles are available in English and Spanish. It is rated R for language and quite a bit of gory violence. Kids who have grown up with Radcliffe will get to hear their hero spout the "F" word on numerous occasions. Extras include scene selection and a behind-the-scenes featurette on the making of the movie.
Ig's girlfriend Merrin is lovely, and the object of his and apparently every other man's desires in their small town. She seems very sweet, but exactly who is she? We never really get to know her, except as a symbolic angel who goes to church and wears a gold cross. It doesn't speak well for the actress or the character that a subsidiary female character, Glenna (Kelli Garner), the town bad girl who has a crush on Ig, makes a much more lasting and poignant impression. As does Heather Graham in an amusingly creepy cameo as a waitress at Eve's. David Morse is also good and touching as Merrin's heartbroken father.
As Ig's horns grow and his powers increase he discovers that he can speak to and control snakes — something that must have seemed a bit familiar to Radcliffe from his Harry Potter days. He can also make people do some pretty wild things, which are at times funny and at times borderline offensive. Ig eventually chooses to use his horns to try and discover Merrin's true killer. But the solving of the mystery is far from the most interesting aspect of the movie. The real reason to see Horns, of course, is for Daniel Radcliffe, who is quite good as Ig, American accent, horns, and all.
Horns is available on Blu-ray and DVD January 6, 2015.