Monday, August 24, 2015

Just watched...

...the 2014 Daniel Radcliffe film "Horns."

I watched this film without knowing much about it. Yes, I had seen a trailer, but as we know, trailers are often one-note. So, without knowing that it was directed by Alexandre Aja (whose resumé boasts "The Hills Have Eyes" and, ahem, "Piranha 3D") and that the script is based on a story by Joe Hill (son of Stephen King), I settled in.

We follow Ignatius, known in the film as Ig, (Daniel Radcliffe) a young man who is accused of murdering his young girlfriend (played by Juno Temple). But the catch--and the premise of the film is--he didn't do it. Ah, a crime story. But the sudden appearance of horns on Ig's head (hence the name of the film) veers us off into a horror story. And that's okay. Genre mash-ups can be fun and at this point in the film, it seemed to be working just fine. A who-dunit fantasy horror story is fun. Everyone in the cast is great. Radcliffe has proven himself to be a very talented, versatile actor and I am glad he made the leap from child star. He deserves it. And his American accent is really quite good! The art direction and special effects are marvelous too--the horns looks absolutely real.

But as the film progressed, I had a little trouble with the direction of the story...or perhaps I should say that I had trouble with its own internal logic the story itself generates. Joe Hill makes Ig turn into some kind of devil, paying for a sin, or becoming evil since he, according to the people of the town he lives in, committed an evil act. But we the audience know he didn't commit murder and has done absolutely nothing wrong. So why does he have to turn into a devil and suffer? The concept itself seems totally wrong and counter to what they story is about. Ig eventually does discover the identity of the true murderer but at that point, the trajectory of the inconsistency is cemented and unfortunately, the horns are never explained to Ig or to us, the audience. Oh well. It's a hoot while it lasts, and there are a lot of great visual puns and black comedic moments on the way to a gruesome and non-sensical ending. Don't get me wrong: I don't expect a fantasy film to make everyday, real-world logical sense. Of course not. I adore fantasy and have had great fun with, and profound reactions to horror films. But I do expect things to make sense within the fantasy world if that is what an author or filmmaker is going to use as a vehicle to tell a story. Once I found out that Joe Hill is the son of Stephen King, I realized that the apple falls close to the tree...I am not a fan of Stephen King who seems to have had only a handful of good ideas in him which he exhausted decades ago. A lot of King's novels have left me scratching my head at the end and I gave up reading him long ago. And the fact that King hates Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining," truly the best adaptation of any of King's stories, tells me all I need to know about his sensibilities. I guess Hill grew up around his father's stunted ideas.

Recommend? Um...I guess so. Yeah, sure, why not. Good acting. Good effects. Just don't expect fullfillment or for the partiuclars of the story to make sense.

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