Last summer, a friend of mine posted a cringe-worthy Huffington Post article on my wall that was titled “8 Movies From The Last 15 Years That Are Super Overrated.” How on earth this piece managed to secure publication on a website of that caliber is beyond me since it included such memorable phrases as, “The problem with 2011’s ‘The Descendants‘ is that it sucked.” Beyond being a terribly constructed and redundant sentence, it is also clearly NOT film criticism.
I try to avoid poor writing and potshots in my own reviews (although sometimes the devil on my shoulder manages to win). But wow, I sure am tempted to pull out some low blow for Alexandre Aja’s “Horns,” one of the most wretched movies I have watched in quite some time. So rather than drop to the level of that piece, I just decided to revive an old column … “Save Yourself!”
I can understand why Daniel Radcliffe and his management team might have thought this film seemed like a good idea on paper. What better way to shed the squeaky clean image of The Boy Who Lived than to play someone who literally sprouts horns and basically functions as a Satanic figure? “Horns” is basically his equivalent of Miley Cyrus twerking on Robin Thicke at the VMAs, though turns in “Kill Your Darlings” and “What If” accomplish the goal far better by just letting Radcliffe play convincing, real people.
Aja essentially lets Radcliffe off the leash in the role of Ig Parrish, letting him play the entire movie at the energy level the actor rapped “Alphabet Aerobics” on “The Tonight Show.” After being falsely accused of raping and murdering his girlfriend, Ig’s horns serve as a supernatural blessing (or curse) to divine the real killer because – get this – the protuberances force people to spill all the skeletons from their closets. Every moment feels so incredibly over the top and overblown, be it for comedy or for violence. Actually, come to think of it, the violence even becomes perversely (and appallingly) comic in its heightened proportions.
“Horns” is not like a film in the vein of Sam Raimi’s “Drag Me to Hell,” where the ambiguity and ambivalence leave an exhilarating void for the viewer to supply their own reaction. It’s just an indecisive tonal scramble, not sure whether it wants to be an all-out festival of gory horror or a black comedy. Aja does neither effectively, and the film becomes a brutal slog to endure. It’s not even overdone to the point of “so bad it’s good.” This is just pain bad. D /