In these last however many months I’ve been reviewing for Pajiba, I’ve suffered through a lot of shitty movies, each one, I claimed, shittier than the last. I’m not at TK levels of trash, but I saw A Long Way Down; I sat through Wish I Was Here; I made it all the way through Life After Beth, and I even watched the boring, pretty racist Hector and the Search For Happiness. At the time, I thought each one of these may have been the worst (or at least most boring) movie I’d seen all year. Each had it’s own particular brand of shit working against it. But, my friends, I’ve seen the light. Never, in my entire life, have I wanted to walk out of a movie as badly as I did while watching Horns.
Here are some things I’ve grown quite fond of over the last year: Daniel Radcliffe, Juno Temple (have you seen Afternoon Delight? See Afternoon Delight!), and Joe Hill’s novel Horns. This movie punched all those things in their faces and peed on their sprawled, unconscious bodies. Dan Rad has gained a lot of love in this (and, okay, every) corner of the internet with his fantastic performance in What If, followed by every interview he gives, ever. And he didn’t necessarily lose it all with this weird-accented pile of misogyny and just bad, bland badness, but he came close. As for the book itself, what was a fun, fluffy-but-not-dumb, entertaining story of a man being weird and trying to solve a weird mystery involving devil horns, was turned into one of the very worst movies of the year. But no one wants to hear a “The book was better than the movie!” rant anymore than they want to hear a detailed description of what you dreamt about last night, so let’s focus on how this movie is a piece of crap, all on its own.
Dan Rad plays Ig, a guy whose lifelong girlfriend Merrin was recently brutally murdered, and who is the prime and only suspect in said murder. In the book, that murder took place a year earlier. The movie has moved the story up considerably, making it a whodunnit, but not adding any urgency. No one really seems to care any more than they would if the killing had taken place a year or two or even ten earlier. But sorry! I said I wouldn’t talk about the book. Moving on, Ig’s being blamed for this murder, which he totes didn’t do, cause he really loved her and stuff. DRad kicks in with some super-expositiony voiceover to say things like “When they looked at me, they saw a monster. And maybe I did too. And now I have to look the part.” And low and behold, in the next scene he sprouts some tiny demon horns out of his head. Super deep, right?
Anyhow, those horns keep growing, and he begins to realize that they hold certain powers over people: strangers (and friends) start to confess their deepest dark thoughts and secrets, and he can also persuade them to do the terrible things they deep down want to do. Like eat a half dozen donuts in one sitting or make out with your police officer partner because gay stuff = funny, right? The horns work on everyone except Ig’s BFF, Lee. Clearly this is because Lee is a Good Person, and not because (kinda spoilers here, if you care, which you shouldn’t because this movie is the stupidest) he’s obviously the GamerGate official mascot, Extreme Psycho “Nice Guy.” Rebecca has a more spoilery, completely awesome rundown of all the ways in which Horns is problematic, genderly speaking. And there are a lot. The female characters basically amount to The Slut, The Jezebel, and the Virgin. And where Joe Hill’s Merrin comes at least kinda close to being an actual fully realized character, the movie Merrin is simply so pure and smoking hot that every dude (Ig’s brother, friend, and father included) just had to get them a piece of that.
If there’s one thing I can say for Horns, it’s this: Have you ever felt a deep, honest connection with a room full of strangers? It’s a pretty powerful feeling. And that was what Horns gave me. In this dark half-full theater, where only half of those people were there because Nightcrawler was sold out, a bunch of strangers bonded. With the terrible sound effects, the senseless violence (a term I use literally— the violence is so ridiculous, so out of place and with terrible CGI, it just makes no sense), the dialogue and performances that wouldn’t even make it into a high school acting competition— a group of strangers found themselves sharing deep, sincere laughter. The kind of joyous laughter that only comes from the truly absurd (and the truly boring). So thank you, Horns, for being so completely unintentionally hilarious that you allowed me to share that bond. The bond of mockery.
Trying to find a header pic using the search term “Horns movie,” Vivian Kane came across this gem:
And decided she would rather watch that movie ten times over, rather than watch ‘Horns’ again once.