IHAO on ... Horns

Joe Hill is a writer I've enjoyed for quite awhile.  Locke and Key is a comic book I could not put down and loved getting until my local comic shop screwed up my order and got me behind and missing pieces.  I'll eventually fix it.  In the back of one such comic of Locke and Key, Joe Hill put a few chapters of his book "Horns."  It was awesome.  I've been excited about it for a long time.  Then I found out about the film version, and I got more excited!  And I finally got it on blu ray after it never came around my town for a cinema release, and ...

Street Sharks drum roll ...

It is fantastic!  It is super super duper good.  With a few minor problems objectively and one really really petty subjective problem, it is absolutely a great film, and probably would have made my list of Best movies of 2014 if I had been able to see it then.  Luckily, is a frontrunner for this year instead!

Horns is a fantasy thriller about a depressed and downtrodden Ig, a young man who is seemingly wrongly charged with the murder of his long-time girlfriend.  The entire town hates him, telling him to go to hell.  Also, he wakes up with horns growing out of his head.  And things just start going weirder, a little darker, a little funnier, and a lot more thrillingly.

Horns revels in its characters, its actors, and its story.  It is an emotionally powerful narrative with awesome actors like Daniel Radcliffe and Juno Temple, and a truly edge of your seat mystery, all brought to a fever pitch because of all the imagery and actual demonic powers happening.  The film has a very familiar narrative format, probably because Joe Hill is the son of Stephen King and the two of them have an incredible way of stringing a narrative together.  Better than all of that, Alexander Aja, the director, does an amazing job with really pushing what a film can do.  He uses amazing visuals, awesome camera work, and breakneck pacing to crank this film to 11.  I mean, truly amazing visuals.  The makeup work is just phenomenal.  Probably the best makeup work I've seen in a film in years.

The film is mostly flawless.  There are very few female characters, and most of them we only hear their dark and dirty secrets which wouldn't paint any character favorably, and in fact it doesn't beyond a small handful.  And the treatment of its lead female for the purpose of plot could possibly really hurt some folks who are sensitive to women being "fridged."  I understand the problem, but don't personally think it hurts things in this film.  Much like the Bechdel test, women being fridged is not a quality problem, but a litmus test that shows a larger problem in writing.  There are stories that need to be told and can be told when unfortunate things happen to people, and love and revenge and murder are all thrilling story components.  But I would be remiss if I didn't mention the fridging.  Also, I'm being purposefully obtuse about that wording just in case it is a little too spoilery for some.
This was the best fridge gif I could find.  Also, link here for learning more about women in fridges.

The other objective problem is that there are CGI snakes, and sometimes, the layering is pretty lazy.  Like, they are clearly fake snakes.  And ... yup, that's it.  That's all the negatives I have from a filmmaking perspective.  And they are completely negligable, in my opinion, because of the ride and performances this film gives us.  The film is a DEEP film, with lots to sift through and a whole lot of amazing shots, effects, and symbolism, but none of it so in your face to ruin the experience.

I have one incredibly lame subjective problem that is not a problem, but I figured I'd share it: this film has a real pulpy feel to it.  It is a dark, thrilling fantasy murder mystery.  And there is some awesome nudity and emotional stuff (that is not a phrase I thought I'd write, huh) as well as satire and comic stuff as well as action, just ... so so much great stuff.  And ... the emotional stuff didn't quite get me.  I've become a softy, and the film didn't make me cry.  Yeah, my only other negative is that this awesome movie didn't make me cry.  Shut up, me.

Grade: A++

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