This is a guest post by Weird Musician.
“Horns” is a 2013 movie directed by Alexandre Aja that is based loosely on the novel of the same name by Joe Hill (who just so happens to be the son of Stephen King). Ignatius Perrish (Daniel Radcliffe) is blamed for his girlfriend Merrin’s (Juno Temple) death and wakes up to find horns on his head. These horns give him supernatural powers that compel people to speak the truth about their darkest impulses and desires.
Ig and Merrin were childhood sweethearts that loved each other very much. Unfortunately, this was not to last; they broke up and then Merrin was killed. Since Ig was the last person to see her alive, he is implicated for her murder and arrested for it.
Soon after, Ig started drinking heavily to the point of blacking out on a regular basis. He is now on trial for her murder, and life is not looking good for scruffy ol’ Harry Potterman. Even though he knows that he didn’t kill her, he can’t convince his family and friends that he had nothing to do with it, and he’s shunned by the entire community, including his parents.
Ignatius “Ig” Perrish
Let’s look at this name for a moment.
- Ignatius is Latin (or Etruscan depeding on who you ask) from the root word “ignite”- meaning fiery one.
- Perrish is a play on the word Perish- which is to die in a violent, sudden or horribly way, or to suffer and be completely ruined or destroyed.
- So we have a fiery one (a name that could imply the Devil or Lucifer) that is going to suffer and then die horribly.
Ig’s favorite places to hang out are the bar, and the tree house that he and Merrin used to hang out at all the time. It also happens to be the place where Merrin was murdered. Thus, implicating Ig’s involvement in her death.
After talking with his brother and his best friend/defense lawyer Lee, Ig gets drunk and then staggers over to the tree house where Merrin was killed.
One night at a vigil he pees on one of the candles that was put in the place of her death. I guess that means that he’s “pissed off” about her murder. Eh? Eh? Not punny enough for you? Deal with it.
The next day Ig wakes up and finds that he has grown a pair of horns on his forehead. The horns by the way are suspiciously shaped like ram’s horns.
OK Bloody Whisperteers! It’s Quiz time!
1. What mythical being from Christianity is depicted with horns?
That’s right, the Devil aka Satan aka Lucifer aka your mom (also the demon Baphomet that were worshiped by the “Disciples of the Ram” in Annabelle). If you guessed wrong, I hate to break it to you, but you’ve been living in a cave in a desert for 100 years. Congratulations Rip Van Wrinkle, you’ve woken up in the future and now can drive your flying car!*
*there are no flying cars. We lied.
2. What is the Devil associated with?
That’s right, pitchforks, snakes, fire, jealousy, murderous rage, deceit, hubris, and apple pie made from the Apple taken from the Tree of Knowledge in Eden. Or was that apple sauce? Whatever.
Yep. Horns is pretty heavy handed with this Biblical imagery. It’s everywhere, from the snakes to the neon apple on the sign for Eve’s diner. Yeah. Eve’s freaking diner. Clever… Oh wait. It’s not.
3. What does the Devil Do?
He punishes people for their sins in Hell, and has the magical ability to get people to give in to their most basest, primal urges and their most vile desires.
Right again! You’re really good at this! (Considering that most of this is deeply ingrained in Western culture, you really should know most of this just from watching TV and junk. If not, you’re doing it wrong!)
4. Based on the answers to all of the above;
What do those ram’s horns on Ig’s head do?
That’s right, they magically compel people to tell Ig what’s really on their mind, and they do exactly what he tells them to do, especially when it is in reference to their darkest desires and emotions. This of course, leads to some hilarious dark comedic scenes where TV news reporters get into a fistfight etc.
After the stage is set and we see the horns in action, the film starts flip-flopping between flashbacks and the present. Unfortunately, because this movie was directed by the same guy that brought us the horrible “Mirrors” (a movie that not even Kiefer Sutherland could save with his amazing hair and acting talent), the pacing is all over the damn place. As a result, not enough emphasis is placed on the two supporting characters in Ig’s present life– his friend Lee and his brother Terry, so we’re left with a half-assed attempt at telling an allegorical story of Biblical proportions that is nowhere near as brilliant as the eponymous book it is based on.
But I digress. In one of the flashbacks, while they were kids, Merrin shines light that she reflects off a metal cross necklace to get Ig’s attention at church. After the ceremony ends he finds Merrin’s cross broken and asks his friend Lee to repair it for him.
Later on Lee rescues Ig from drowning. Ig gives him a cherrybomb in thanks, and then gives Merrin her repaired necklace.
Lee then uses the cherrybomb and blows off several of his fingers. Way to go kid.
This part is important as the back-story, but it’s handled rather clumsily.
We at Bloody Whisper consider this to be a HUGE hint at what happened in the present. We call it a Flashblack Foreshadowing Event. Can you even do foreshadowing in a flashback? Isn’t that done in the present? This is so confusing. We are pretty sure that the book handled this part better. Books are always better than movies anyways. More depth. Just go read “Horns” and we’ll shut up about it.
Because of his horns Ig finds out what his parents actually think about him, and that they keep comparing him to his more successful brother who’s a musician.
But what’s really weird is that the entire town is affected by his horns, except for Lee. He can’t even see them. Hmmm…
Then, a star witness suddenly appears; the waitress at Eve’s Cafe! *gasp* When Ig confronts her she confesses that she’s been fabricating stories to become famous and appear on TV.
Soon after, Ig’s brother Terry confesses that he drove Merrin home the night that she was killed. She abruptly left his car and headed for the forest to go do something. He stayed in his car, waiting for her to return, and when he woke up the next day, a bloodied rock was in his passenger’s seat. But he never told anyone about this. Enraged, Ig attacks his brother and is arrested for assault.
After leaving jail Ig discovers that he’s being followed by snakes. Good thing he’s not Indiana Jones, or he’d totally freak out. Indiana hates snakes!
So, what does he do with his new serpentine pals? He controls them and gets them to attack the waitress that had been spreading lies about what he did the night Merrin was killed and gets his revenge. Then he forces his brother Terry to overdose on various assortment of drugs which make him hallucinate, because he wasn’t honest about what happened the night Merrin died.
Ig finally notices that his friends Lee is wearing Merrin’s cross so he takes it off and Lee confesses about what he has done.
After touching Lee he sees what happened the night Merrin died. Lee had followed her and tried to come onto her, but she wasn’t interested. She still loved Ig. When Lee heard this, he was driven into a murderous rage and raped her and then struck her with a rock (the one that he planted in Terry’s car) in an attempt to frame him for her murder.
In shock and consumed with rage, Ig is overpowered by Lee, and is beaten up. Lee douses him and his car with gasoline, and lights them both on fire. Ig drives to the bay waters to put out the fire and somehow manages to escape the car before it sinks.
Lee tells the news reporters that Ig confessed to murdering Merrin before killing himself. Because he’s a douche.
Ig visits Merrin’s dad, and he asks him if he knows who killed Merrin. Ig tells him yes and that he will bring justice to the killer. So her dad gives Ig the key to a lock-box in their tree house and also her cross (which magically heals him and removes his horns, because love conquers all I guess). He then walks to the tree house and finds a letter written by Merrin telling him she had cancer and didn’t want to put Ig through the pain her father experienced when her mother died. Ouch. She broke up with him because she was dying. She pushed him away so that he wouldn’t suffer watching her die from cancer. The Feels!
In the final confrontation, Ig takes Lee to the tree house, and Terry and a local cop show up.
At gunpoint Lee confesses to killing Merrin and seems to be cooperative, but soon kills Eric the Cop and injures Terry. Lee tries to kill Ig and in the scuffle he rips off the cross necklace and suddenly Ig sprouts angel wings that are swiftly engulfed in flames that consume Igs body, turning him into a demonic creature with supernatural strength that he uses to shrug off Lee, and then he impale him with his horns.
Then he makes the snakes through the wound he had made and they kill Lee.
Ig collapses and while his brother holds him, he succumbs to his injuries and dies, and his body turns to dust. It’s hinted here that he’s able to reunite with Merrin in the afterlife. (Get it? Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust? See, total Biblical stuff here.)
In the end it turns out that Ig’s friend Lee was never a friend, but an enemy in disguise that was only waiting for the right time to take away Merrin and leave him in the dust.
What I liked the most about the movie was the combination of supernatural elements with the story of two friends who were fighting for the same girl since early childhood.
There are some dark scenes like when the waitress is attacked by all the snakes in her car, and when Ig’s brother hallucinates during a drug overdose and thinks that he is being buried alive. Those are good too.