October 5, 2014

VOD Review: Horns (2014)

When we read Joe Hill's book, Horns, sometime last year, we pretty much fell in love with it. That's not to say that it's perfect or anything, but the way that it wove elements of Supernatural revenge into what is essentially a tragic love story, really worked for us, and it ended up being a pretty emotional read.

Yes folks, Horns is, at its heart, a love story.

Now don't go getting all "not another tween love story!" on us, because Horns doesn't pander to the lovelorn demographic at all, and it certainly isn't overly-sentimental or sappy about anything. Love is a pretty big part of the narrative though, and honestly, it's the driving force behind the story.

As much as we liked the book, we're happy to say that Alexandre Aja's movie version was just about as enjoyable for us. For Aja, Horns is a radical departure from earlier, gorier efforts like Haute Tension, The Hills Have Eyes, and Piranha 3D, and we're fine with that; after seeing Horns, it's clear that he's as adept at using elements of comedy and drama in his movies as he is blood and violence.

Ig Perrish used to be a happy guy, until his girlfriend Merrin was found raped and murdered. Now, he's not only a broken man, but the main suspect in her murder; everyone in town looks at him sideways; he has reporters following him everywhere; and on top of all of that, he wakes up from a night of heavy drinking to find that he's got bony horns sprouting from his head.

With his horns come strange new powers; whenever someone is near him, they confess their deepest, darkest desires to him; If he touches someone, he can see into their souls, and learn their most intimate secrets; and he has an odd affinity with snakes. Best of all though, people do what he says, because the horns obviously make him persuasive; when Ig Perrish tells two closeted, gay Cops to "suck each other off," by God they do it!

With these new powers at his disposal, Ig sets off to find out who killed raped and Merrin, so that he can clear his name, and maybe even kill the guy. Along the way he learns that his parents think that he's guilty, his brother is a creepy junkie liar, and his best friend (who is also his lawyer) is the only one who can't see his new horns. So basically, his only true friends are the snakes which now seem to love him, and his FWB Glenna, but she's kind of a whore, so he doesn't really rely on her all that much.

Will Ig ever find out who killed and raped Merrin? Will he fully transform into a Demon (or The Devil himself) in the process? Will we ever get to see the Treehouse of the Mind in its full glory? Far be it from us to spoil anything for you here, but yes, yes, and *no. *Because it's not in the movie.

Horns was not a perfect adaptation of Joe Hill's book, but it was a pretty damned good one. It's not particularly "scary" or anything, but it is intense at times, it's as funny as it is emotional, and it's even got a bit on blood and gore towards the end.

In most cases, it's really hard to bring a novel to the big screen and do it justice, and there are most definitely some moments, scenes, and story-arcs from the book that we feel should have been included here, but for the most part, Keith Bunin's script does the novel justice. Fans of the book will most likely enjoy this adaptation, but will no doubt be dismayed at some of the changes. In the end, I think that I like the movie and the book equally, for different reasons, but I'm really glad I read the book first.

A lot of the story is told in flashback form, while Ig is searching for Merrin's killer, and the flashback scenes represent some of the best moments in the movie; seeing Ig, Merrin, Lee, and Terry as kids is pretty integral to the plot, as a lot of what happens to them in their younger days leads to the tragedy in their present day lives. It's too bad that some of their backstory was left out of the movie, because there are scenes in the book which give some much needed context to both them, and the story at large. What we did get in the movie was still satisfying though.

Daniel Radcliffe was great as Ig, and even though her screen time wasn't as lengthy, Juno Temple was a piece of really great casting for the role of Merrin; Juno is one of the best young actresses working today, and she honestly lifts every movie she's in with her talent. Both of them fit their roles perfectly here.

Some of the changes from book to movie left us a bit disappointed, although we understand why they went the way that they did for the most part:
  1. In the book, Ig just wakes up one day with horns growing from his head, and it's far more ambiguous as to whether he's guilty or not.
  2. In the book, it's not as much of a question of "who killed Merrin?" because you find out fairly early on who killed her; rather it's more about Ig's transformation, and how he goes about dealing with the killer, amidst flashbacks that give the story extra context and weight. It just played different in the movie.
  3. The part where Ig emerges from the lake after being savagely beaten wasn't as "grand" in the movie as we thought it would be.
  4. "The killer" comes off as way more creepy and evil in the book, and their backstory (the cat, pitchfork to the head, fixing the moon) would have been great to see on film. The movie version of the killer came off as kinda weak and less impactful.
  5. We wish that the parts in the foundry with the snakes had been included. There was no throne of bricks, no timber rattler... and there was no scene where he talked to the snakes. Huge disappointment.
  6. The final showdown wasn't as good in the movie; in the book, Ig lures the killer to the foundry, where they have it out in a completely different way. The movie version felt too rushed, and it didn't have as much impact on us because of it.
  7. We really missed the scenes that came after Ig "deals" with Merrin's killer, as they offered some great closure to the stories of Terry and Glenna. It would have really been nice to see more of Glenna's story from the book, because in the movie she's basically an afterthought.
  8. Lee losing his fingers instead of his eye, kinda sucked. It's a little thing, really, but it would have been cool to see him rocking the milky, dead eye.
The Treehouse of the Mind was one of the best parts of the book, and it sucks that they didn't include it here. The treehouse, and its rules, go a long way towards better explaining how Ig got his powers, and its rules defined what he was to do with them.

It would have also made the ending better, as far as what happens to Ig after all is said and done. The ending in the movie felt rushed and a bit hollow, and we really were hoping to see the "wedding" thing play out on screen.

There were a few gory bits towards the end that made us recall some of Alexandre Aja's earlier, gorier efforts, but for the most part, Horns is a blood-free affair.

We get a brief love scene where Juno Temple is naked, but it's quick and tasteful. Oh yeah, we also get to see an old guy's dick. Because he really wanted us to see it.

Love is hell. Also, there really is no sympathy for The Devil, is there?

Aside from wanting a few more elements from the book included in the film, Horns was a very pleasing watch. It was emotional, funny, fun, bloody at times, and for the most part, it did justice to the source material. It's definitely worth your rental $$$.

If you end up liking the movie, do yourself a favor and read the book, because you'll end up liking it even more.


Horns is available now on VOD, and will hit Theaters on October 31st.


Oh, what about the Ladies of Horns, you ask? Well we've given them their own Horror Hottie post which you an check out right HERE!

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