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Horns Blu-ray Review

Horns (2014) movie poster Horns

Theatrical Release: October 31, 2014 / Running Time: 120 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: Alexandre Aja / Writers: Keith Bunin (screenplay), Joe Hill (novel)

Cast: Daniel Radcliffe (Ignatius "Ig" Perrish), Max Minghella (Lee Tourneau), Joe Anderson (Terry Perrish), Juno Temple (Merrin Williams), Kelli Garner (Glenna Shepherd), James Remar (Derrick Perrish), Kathleen Quinlan (Lydia Perrish), Heather Graham (Veronica), David Morse (Dale Williams), Michael Adamthwaite (Officer Eric "Meatbag" Hannity), Nels Lennarson (Officer Wallace Sturtz), Don Thompson (Al O'Hara), Jay Brazeau (Father Mould), Alex Zahara (Dr. Renald), Kendra Anderson (Nurse Delilah), Mitchell Kummen (Ig Perrish at 13), Sabrina Carpenter (Merrin Williams at 13), Laine MacNeil (Glenna Shepherd at 13), Dylan Schmid (Lee Tourneau at 13), Jared Ager-Foster (Terry Perrish at 15), Eric McNamee (Eric Hannity at 15)

Buy Horns from Amazon.com: Blu-ray DVD Instant Video

Daniel Radcliffe need only look at the career of Mark Hamill to see how possible it is to have the lead role in the all-time biggest film franchise not lead to much else. Since Harry Potter ended in 2011, Radcliffe seems to have had Hamill on his mind, as inspiration to do more and be known as more than The Boy Who Lived.
While that one magical role has financially secured the young Brit for life, it's understandable he'd want to act in some other things while he still can. Generations of nostalgia and one of filmdom's highest-profile parts have not yielded a whole lot of notable on-camera work for Hamill beyond cameos for the likes of Kevin Smith.

Should Radcliffe aspire to more than being asked to reprise his signature role thirty years down the line if J.K. Rowling should pull a George Lucas and allow someone else to continue the saga, he is doing his part to avoid such unconceivable obscurity. He scored a minor hit in his first post-Potter gig, starring in the lifeless winter 2012 suspense The Woman in Black. Avoiding its sequel, currently being subjected to the usual diminishing returns in theaters, also looks like a smart move. The actor's other work has been more independent in nature and thus hasn't attracted hordes of viewers and admirers. Agreeable reviews couldn't help 2013's Kill Your Darlings and 2014's What If find audiences. Horns, Radcliffe's latest effort, didn't even have those and absolutely floundered in limited release.

From genre-seasoned director Alexandre Aja (Piranha 3D, Mirrors, 2006's The Hills Have Eyes) and "In Treatment" scribe Keith Bunin adapting Joe Hill's 2010 novel for his theatrical debut, Horns stars Radcliffe as Ignatius Perrish, a man from a small logging town outside of Seattle. Ig, as he's more commonly known, opens the film in comfortable leisure with Merrin Williams (Juno Temple), the love of his life. Minutes later, Ig is being harassed by press and an angry mob, all of whom are convinced he has responsible for the murder of Merrin.

A snake slithers around the neck of Ig Perrish (Daniel Radcliffe) in "Horns."

After desecrating the shrine set up in the woods where Merrin's body was found and enduring a drunken one-night stand with Glenna (Kelli Garner), a friendly bartender he's known since childhood, Ig awakens to find horns growing out of his temples. He is understandably puzzled and disturbed by the development, which he at first fears are hallucinations. Other people can see the horns, but barely even notice them. Instead of being troubled by them, people Ig encounters start confiding in him their dark inner thoughts and secrets. Those he runs into curse, swear, and dispense of their inhibitions.

Though the horns suggest the Devil is inside him, Ig maintains his innocence in Merrin's murder. No one else believes him, though. Not even his parents (Kathleen Quinlan and James Remar) or his older brother (Joe Anderson). Ig is placing his fate in the hands of a public defender, Lee Tourneau (Max Minghella), another friend since childhood and the only person who doesn't see the horns on Ig's head or start confessing wicked thoughts and evil deeds in his presence.

Horns is not your typical horror film. It jumps around chronologically, sharing with us episodes from Ig's childhood, such as the moment Merrin first caught his eyes in church with light reflected off her crucifix. In addition to these coming-of-age sequences, which display a childish whimsy you don't often find in the foreground of the genre, the film is a mystery. Fearing the possibility that he killed Merrin and was too drunk to remember it, Ig pieces together that fateful night, flashbacks coming to him in his encounters with people close to him. The film is also a fractured love story of sorts, with a mix of happy and bad times. And then there is the supernatural treatment of religious ideas and the notion that devils are fallen angels.

The grieving father of the deceased (David Morse) is among those who doesn't believe Ig's innocence claim. Among Ig's problems is Veronica (Heather Graham), a waitress who confesses she'll give false testimony to get discovered.

There is a lot going on in Horns and much of it isn't bad at all. This film wields obvious artistic value and,
unusual for the genre, real substance and complex characters. Thematically, Horns has quite a bit in common with one of the best films of the same year, Gone Girl. If you found that movie a bit cold and dark, stay far, far away from this one. The movie has a lousy view of humanity and the world, which may be too much for many viewers to take. The rampant cynicism occasionally manifests in weak satire, most broadly in the scene where, embracing his power, Ig gets the media hounding him to engage in an all-out brawl for an exclusive interview. The comedy misses the mark and feels out of place amidst a story of genuine sadness and pain.

It seems like in a genre that so rarely exhibits originality, Horns does enough to stand out and warrant some positive marks. Instead, it garnered mixed but predominantly negative reviews in its 100-theater release that was, per the Radius-TWC model, concurrent with Video On Demand availability. Admittedly, the film is tonally scattershot and generally difficult to warm to, but it's a thinking film that finds the horror in real life relationships and interactions. That's got to count for something in this often derivative and tedious genre.

Radcliffe has no difficulties with the American accent, nor with the characterization (which doesn't for even a second remind you of Harry Potter), nor the sometimes gruesome content. The film doesn't have the desperation of an established actor trying to reinvent himself. He feels fully committed to the story in all its offbeat glory.

Even if Horns did not perform the way anyone hoped (grossing just under $200,000 in the three weeks beginning with Halloween), it added something different to Radcliffe's repertoire and keeps him in circulation. Next up for the actor: the mainstream fall horror movie Victor Frankenstein, which reimagines Mary Shelley's novel from the point of view of Radcliffe's Igor (James McAvoy plays the titular scientist). After that, Radcliffe will add to a large and apparently growing ensemble of the sequel to Summit's surprise magician heist hit Now You See Me.

One of the last great chances for Horns to find an audience came with this week's Weinstein/Anchor Bay DVD and Blu-ray releases of the film.

Horns Blu-ray Disc cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

2.40:1 Widescreen
5.1 DTS-HD MA (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned; Extra Subtitled in English
Release Date: January 6, 2015
Suggested Retail Price: $29.98
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (BD-50)
Blue Keepcase
Also available on DVD ($24.98 SRP) and Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

Horns may not have a huge budget (especially as far as Daniel Radcliffe movies go), but it looks terrific on Blu-ray all the same. The 2.40:1 presentation shows no flaws and impresses with its detail and luster. The only soundtrack offered is in 5.1 DTS-HD master audio and it too fits the bill. Score, dialogue, and a few of prominent needle drops (David Bowie's recurring "Heroes", The Pixies' "Where Is My Mind?", and Marilyn Manson's "Personal Jesus") all sound great and enhance your viewing.

Alexandre Aja directs Max Minghella and Daniel Radcliffe on the set of "Horns." Merrin and Ig strike a Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby kind of pose on the Horns Blu-ray menu.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The Blu-ray's only extra is "Horns: Behind the Scenes" (18:48), an HD making-of featurette.
It provides talking heads (cast, crew, and author) and B-roll to add some insight to this "tragicomehorroredy", touching on topics like adaptation, casting, make-up effects, and working with snakes. It's a fine companion to the film.

The disc opens with an HD trailer for Snowpiercer. It's not accessible by menu and Horns' trailer isn't accessible at all here.

The menu loops a dramatically scored montage that nearly fills the screen. Like other Weinstein/Anchor Bay Blu-rays, this one regrettably won't let you resume unfinished playback and won't let you set bookmarks either.

The plain blue keepcase is not joined by a slipcover or inserts, meaning no Digital HD is included with it. It does at least adapt the cover art into a full-color disc label.

While Chieftans Pub burns behind him, Ig Perrish (Daniel Radcliffe) takes a look at the engagement ring he wanted to give his late girlfriend Merrin Williams.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Horns isn't a great film. Maybe it isn't even a good film. But it is an interesting, multi-faceted, subversive, and original film, which is enough to distinguish it from the sea of boilerplate, derivative horror. I'd recommend a rental for Radcliffe fans and those not easily offended.

Buy Horns from Amazon.com: Blu-ray / DVD / Instant Video

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Related Reviews:
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Daniel Radcliffe: Kill Your Darlings Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
Juno Temple: Maleficent Magic Magic Sin City: A Dame to Kill For | James Remar: Persecuted
Max Minghella: The Ides of March The Darkest Hour 10 Years | Joe Anderson: The Ruins Across the Universe
Directed by Alexandre Aja: Piranha
13 Sins Fright Night (2011) The Blob (1988) Ruby Sparks

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Reviewed January 9, 2015.



Text copyright 2015 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2014 Radius-TWC, Dimension Films, Red Granite Pictures, Mandalay Pictures, and
2015 The Weinstein Company Home Entertainment and Anchor Bay Entertainment. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.