Rated: R for sexual content, some graphic nudity, disturbing violence including a sexual assault, language and drug use. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: October 31, 2014 Released by: Radius-TWC
An extreme Daniel Radcliffe (Kill Your Darlings) returns to the silver screen in time for Halloween in a subversively but too silly and febrile arcane fright fest helmed by Alexandre Aja (Maniac, High Tension) and set in a sleepy logging town near Seattle. Doing the voice-over and driving a run-down red Gremlin, you almost wish one of those old critters would appear from the three-decade old Steven Spielberg produced giddily amusing horror movie. It is less stumbling than what still will probably elicit more groans than chuckles (though to its credit a weird drollness complements some visual garnishing).
Horns is hardly casual in its pacing and unfettered as Radcliffe's Ig becomes the target of an investigation of the horrific homicide of his childhood amour, Merrin (Juno Temple of Greenberg,The Dark Knight Rises). His lawyer and childhood chum Lee (Max Minghella) appears to be the only one backing his innocence as the press is on them like flies. There's uncertainty in Ig's family from a musician brother (Joe Anderson) to his parents (James Remar, Kathleen Quinlan) about the young man who'll discover the eponymous hard pointed parts protruding from his forehead.
Keith Bunin, following the novel by Joe Hill (Stephen King's son), churns out quite the transformation (without the overly imaginative bite of Hill's text) after Ig's doctor is preoccupied from removing what turns out to compel folks around him to open up to him from the far, eerie recesses of their minds. His script tries to find its way through flashbacks (Temple is hamstrung in displaying much interest) and revelations to try and bring clarity to a mystery (as Ig sets his sights on the true culprit) with little continuity. Where the devilish and spiritual are showcased in the metamorphosis to little effect as Aja packs hallucinogenic hedonistic sights (often shadowy lights and hues vividly), especially in a wooded enclave, however overfilled in an unstable, protracted way.
Ig is on the fringe of empathy as arbitrariness seems to resound within the discordance to let the atonal activity unfold either shrill or nearly unwatchable for some as major ghastly showdowns ensue as "Horns" locks into its crazed climax. Radcliffe, considering the material sprouting from and around him, actually acquits himself better than you might expect in what might have made better as very ominous animation. But, its' broad, disturbing sense of wit and unrelenting histrionics in spite of some quirky, acrid moments (especially in one case with Remar and Quinlan) is more displeasing, too predictable (to anyone even slightly familiar with even those classic mysteries) and emotionally inert. Even if the off-the-wall outrageousness embraced by the cast and its star over dramatically can't let it stylishly drift as a ghoulish hoot.