Horns (2013) Review

Horns (2013)

Directed by Alexandre Aja

Based on Horns by Joe Hill

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Max Minghella, Joe Anderson, Juno Temple, Kelli Garner, James Remar, Kathleen Quinlan, Heather Graham, David Morse, Sabrina Carpenter

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Horns is an American dark fantasy horror-comedy film directed by Alexandre Aja, loosely based on Joe Hill’s novel of the same name. Daniel Radcliffe stars as a man who is accused of raping and murdering his girlfriend (Juno Temple) and uses his newly discovered paranormal abilities to uncover the real killer.

My Opinion:

Okay, so I watched this movie after reading the book because I of course wanted to see how they’d adapt such a weird story (you can read my review of the book HERE). I know that movies are rarely as good as the books but they did a pretty poor job with this adaptation. It started out pretty good, too, so it was disappointing that it fell apart.

Yes, we have Harry Potter playing Ig, a guy who grows Devil horns. And has sex! NO! Do NOT have sex, Daniel Radcliffe! That’s just really disturbing – you’re a little kid. And Juno Temple… is it just me or is that girl annoying? I suppose she wasn’t too bad in this, though, as she was kind of how I pictured Merrin. She’s famous because her dad (Julien Temple) is famous. Can we just talk about his music documentary/music video work instead? That’s far more interesting than Horns. My husband told me he likes it more when I go off on a tangent, like when I “reviewed” Primer and ended up talking about Weebles. Really?? Surely people find that annoying! Just Google Julien Temple if you don’t know him – besides things like his Sex Pistols documentaries, he directed far more music videos than I realized (videos for Judas Priest, The Rolling Stones, Neil Young, Depeche Mode, etc etc, and that David Bowie movie Absolute Beginners). Oh, and check out my chat with Hard Ticket To Home Video’s Brian of Billy Idol’s White Wedding video HERE (which wasn’t directed by Temple – I’m just whoring my Music Video Friday posts that only I & two other bloggers like). πŸ˜‰

Right! Horns. I think the movie captured the love story between Ig & Merrin pretty well, which was good as that’s what I liked the most about the book. But it did a terrible job with all the other characters. As always, I won’t spoil the story but the two other biggest characters are probably Ig’s brother Terry & Ig’s friend Lee (who couldn’t look more different from how he’s described in the book). Their stories were changed quite a bit and they got no character development at all in the movie. I hated the changes as they didn’t really seem like the type that were necessary to save on time or whatever (I let some changes slide as I know it’s hard to squeeze a long book into a short movie). For those seeing the movie only, I think you’ve totally missed out on most of the characters’ motivations for doing the things they did.

And Heather Graham couldn’t have felt more out of place! They changed & made her role far bigger than it was in the book and I’m afraid to say that she came across as quite desperate in this & her acting was just embarrassing. It makes me sad to say that – I kind of like Heather Graham. I’m assuming she was told to act in that way, though, as Wikipedia oddly describes Horns as a horror comedy, which I don’t think is at all accurate. There are a couple small dark comedy moments but don’t watch it expecting a dark comedy – it’s a supernatural murder mystery horror. It’s a very unique & original story so I suppose that’s just Hollywood trying to give it a simple classification.

Despite my complaints, I did like this movie okay. I’m going to be picky as I liked the book but, trying to look at it as someone who hasn’t read the book would, I think it’s a decent enough film. It does try a little too hard to be “cool” but I think that’s pretty common for movies aimed at twentysomethings. Yes, like Joe Hill’s books are very much aimed at a younger generation than those older fans of his dad’s (Stephen King) work, this movie very obviously knows its specific target audience. Which is fine – I’m sure a lot of now-adults who grew up with Harry Potter love this movie. I think Daniel Radcliffe will have been chosen for this very reason & he’s much better than I was expecting – I ended up having no issues with him playing Ig (I read on IMDB that Shia LaBeouf was originally going to play Ig. Yuck – can you imagine?! That would’ve been a huge mistake!). Also, the movie’s soundtrack is pretty good. It was out of place half the time & far too obvious sometimes (such as using Personal Jesus) but I’m not going to complain at a soundtrack including David Bowie even though the song Heroes worked much better in The Perks Of Being A Wallflower (plus David Bowie is currently the “artist you must include in your soundtrack to make your movie seem cool“).


Horns is a decent enough horror movie if you’re looking for a different sort of story that you’ve not seen in a thousand other films (that’s usually my biggest complaint with horror movies such as Mama). Don’t get the wrong idea when I say it’s aimed at twentysomethings who grew up with Harry Potter – it’s a dark film & very much a “horror”. I was surprised when looking up the director’s other work (The Hills Have Eyes remake, Mirrors, Piranha 3D(!), and the ultra-violent Switchblade Romance which has been on my list to watch for the blog every October but I still haven’t because I’m a wuss). Well, Horns is less extreme than any of those. I far preferred the book, of course, but at least they got the central love story right in the movie even if they made a mess of everything else. I’d actually recommend only watching the movie with this one if you’re not much of a book person – you’ll enjoy the movie more that way. If you are a book person, definitely read the book first.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Here’s a Julien Temple video! This song is stuck in my head now. Judas Priest – Breaking The Law:

45 thoughts on “Horns (2013) Review

  1. I’m shocked that Daniel Radcliffe has sex. Harry Potter does not do the naughty things!

    I’ve wanted to watch this for a while now. Doesn’t sound like the best movie around, but could still be fun

  2. I’d completely forgotten about Horns till now. I didn’t know it was based on a book, either! Daniel Radcliffe is absolutely not allowed to have sex, he will forever be awkward Harry in my eyes. I’m gonna have to give this a watch at long last!
    – Allie

    • Yep – it’s by Joe Hill (Stephen King’s son). Not sure what you’ll make of it – it’s a very odd story! The book is of course better but it’s so weird I’d probably just recommend the movie even though I liked the book a lot. Would love to know what you think if you watch it. πŸ™‚

    • Yeah – it was totally rushed in the second half. It really fell apart then! And it started out pretty good… But, yeah – it was a lot of story to squeeze into a movie! πŸ™‚

  3. I really wondered what to make of this one. I don’t know the book and it felt hard to pin down from the trailers. Thanks for the review!

    • You’re welcome! πŸ™‚ It really is an odd one so it’s hard to describe. I liked the book much more but know it’s not for everyone. I liked that it was such an original story, though. It was cool that I’ve not seen another one quite like it. πŸ™‚

      • I haven’t read it. I would normally assume it’s not my thing, but then I saw a trailer that made it looks kind of promising….although I’m not sure I understood it was a horror, so what do I know?

  4. Good review!

    Horns was the first book I read by Joe Hill. He is a competent writer, who knows how to pace a story, and make it interesting.

    I would have been happy to invest more of my time watching this film, if there had been a greater inclusion of the tree house of the mind. It was one of the parts of the novel I really wanted to see shown on screen, but it was completely ignored by Keith Bunin and Alexandre Aja.

    • Thanks! πŸ™‚ Yeah – I totally agree about the treehouse of the mind thing. It was such an important part of the book – I also wanted it to be included in the movie. It’s a shame they didn’t at least do a little bit with it. Have you read other Joe Hill books? I’ve only read NOS4A2.

  5. hmm. despite having Harry potter with horns in this one, not sure it will be enjoyable for me. u told me that i wouldn’t like the book so much, does that hold true here too?

  6. That was interesting. No really. See, I’m on the other side of the fence. I didn’t read the book. You’ve got me curious about the deeper motives. But I had fun with this movie. I love the director, and the story was a surprise. The mystery was actually compelling. I found the movie funny too. Sorry πŸ˜‰ It was really dry humour at times, and some funny social commentary. Too bad the movie didn’t live up to the book. I have one of Hill’s other books. Bought it after I saw this. I guess it’s time I read it. You’ve got me more excited. If his writing is better than the Horns movie, I’m in for a treat. Great review!

  7. I’d completely ignored this, until I saw a trailer on a disc for something else and thought it looked rather good. I’ll re-adjust my expectations down a bit for when/if I ever get round to it.

    I think if something’s in any way “odd” Hollywood feel they have to describe it as a comedy, as if that’s some kind of justification. “Harry Potter growing horns is pretty odd, right? Don’t worry, it’s a comedy!”

    • Lol. Yep – that’s Hollywood for you! πŸ˜‰ It has a few darkly funny moments but I’d certainly not call it a comedy. It’s a hard one to recommend, though, as I know it’s not for everyone. Would love to know your thoughts if you do see it! πŸ™‚

  8. Great review! I think this movie did a good job with what it had to work with, Horns is not an easy story to bring to screen. There were flaws and some things that I didn’t like, but overall I really liked this.

    • Thanks, Zoe! πŸ™‚ Yes, a VERY hard book to adapt. They did do a pretty decent job at first. Just kind of fell apart at the end. But I enjoyed it more than most the horror crap I watched this month. πŸ™‚ Wish they could’ve gotten more of the treehouse of the mind stuff in there.

      • Right?! The Treehouse of the Mind was fascinating, but explaining the inscapes in the film might have gotten way too complicated, but I wish it were there so that people could understand how intricate the story actually got.

        I freaking LOVED the usage of Manson’s Personal Jesus at the bar – it was perfectly used.

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