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Movie Review: "Horns"

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

Theatrical Release: 10/31/2014

Theatrical Release: 10/31/2014

Film Synopsis

Ig Perrish (Daniel Radcliffe) has had quite the year. The love of his life, Merrin Williams (Bruno Temple), was raped and murdered exactly one year ago. However, Ig and Merrin had a very public fight on the night of her death, and so the police have only ever had one suspect. Ig loved Merrin, and he wanted a life with her. There was no way he would ever hurt her, but he is the last one who saw her alive and he is the only one the police can find who had a motive. They did not have enough evidence to convict Ig, but they had enough to slander his name in the small town in which he lives.

Everyone knows the name Ig Perrish, and everyone believes he was the one responsible for the sweet, young Merrin's horrific fate. Nonetheless, Ig walks free, and that reality infuriates many people in the small town. His life has changed dramatically over the course of the year, but after the anniversary of Merrin’s death, Ig wakes up to find horns growing out of his head. Other people can see them, but they do not freak out. Rather, when people see him, they feel compelled to confess things to him. Whether it be a dark secret or a sick desire, they always confess something, making it clear that the horns on Ig's head have come with some abilities. The horns have come with that ability and more, and while Ig has no idea what these horns are or why they are growing out of his head, he thinks he can use them to finally get some answers.

Official Trailer

The Pros and Cons

All movies start with an average score of 75 pts, points are then added or subtracted based on each Pro and Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points, ranging from 0-10, to convey how significant these Pros or Cons are.

The ProsThe Cons

Ig Perrish (+8 pts)

Character Depth (-4 pts)

Merrin Williams (+4 pts)

Lee Tourneau (-3 pts)

The Horns (+8 pts)

Book Ending vs. Movie Ending (-3 pts)


Pro: Ig Perrish (+8 pts)

I thought Ig Perrish had a really compelling story. What if the woman you loved was horrifically murdered, and you were the only suspect? What if that happened in a small town where everyone knew your name, and would always associate you with the murder, even if the police did not have enough to convict you? Ig was devastated after what happened to Merrin, and his name had been stained by the horrific murder. To make matters even worse, he knew the real killer was still out there.

I really liked this character’s story, and I thought Daniel Radcliffe was a great choice for the role. The character’s story was dark, it was heavy, but there was a surprising amount of humor in his situation. The humor was with respect to how other characters reacted to the horns, as well as how Ig used them to interact with other characters. It was the combination of humor and darkness that made the character a complicated one. Nonetheless, Daniel Radcliffe did a truly fantastic job bringing it all to the screen.


Con: Character Depth (-4 pts)

This movie was based on a book that I really liked by Joe Hill. Much like his father—Stephen King—Joe Hill writes stories with strong characters in supernatural situations. I read Horns, and loved it, so I was really excited to see the movie. The book did a great job of setting up each of the main characters—Ig, Merrin, and Lee. He made me understand them, and he provided a ton of context regarding their complex friendship together.

The main reason that the book was so impactful for me was because of the strong character development of the three main characters. In adapting this story for a movie, the filmmakers unfortunately lost some of that. I understand the filmmakers had to condense the book into one single movie, so they had to cut quite a bit. I do not blame the filmmakers, but in knowing how important fully fleshed-out characters were to this story, I cannot help but think that this story would have been better served by being told as a limited series. I think the filmmakers did just about as good a job as they could have done with the screen-time they had, but the movie was missing a lot of the impact that the book was able to deliver because there just was not enough time to properly flesh out the story of this group of friends.


Pro: Merrin Williams (+4 pts)

Learning more about what happened to this character and her secrets before she died was kind of the whole point of the story. With that in mind, I am not going to say too much about Merrin here. Ig was on a mission to learn more about Merrin and the events that led to her tragic death, and I enjoyed the mystery that his mission brought to the story. As Ig learned more, the story forced us to alter our view of the Merrin, as well as her relationship with Ig, and it forced us to do that multiple times. I do not want to say much more than that. Just know that Joe Hill delivered a rollercoaster regarding his reader’s opinion of Merrin and her relationship with Ig, and the filmmakers of did a pretty decent job of capturing that in this movie.


Con: Lee Tourneau (-3 pts)

Of the three main characters, Lee Tourneau was the one that suffered the most from having less development in the movie than he did in the book. Lee was Ig’s best friend, and the book did a really great job of setting him up in a compelling way. This added a lot of context to everything that the character said and did throughout the story, both good and bad, and this made him a really interesting character in the book. Unfortunately, a lot of Lee’s friendship with Ig was cut from this movie to keep the runtime down. The filmmakers kept the bare bones of the character, but the movie ended up losing the bond that the two characters had in the process. The character was fine in the movie, and while I thought Max Minghella was a strong casting choice, there simply was not enough screen time to flesh the character out properly. This made him a far less interesting and far more one-dimensional character than the version of the character in the book.

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Pro: The Horns (+8 pts)

I thought this was a really unique concept, and it went along really well with Ig's story. He was angry with being blamed for murdering the love of his life, and he needed answers. The horns, and the way they affected him, brought out the character's anger. Additionally, Ig's new power of persuasion, and his ability to see people's pasts, were crucial in Ig's search for answers. They also provided the movie with humor, while Ig was learning more about them and what they could do. The horns were effective as a supernatural element to this story, but they did not feel random. They were certainly interesting and unique, but they also tied really well with the emotional journey Ig was on.


Con: Book Ending vs. Movie Ending (-3 pts)

I always find it funny when people criticize a movie for going in a different direction than the book. I very much understand that books and movies are very different forms of storytelling. I understand that what works in a book will not necessarily be best for the movie adaptation, and vice versa. Whenever I read a book and then watch its movie version, I never expect the movie to be a shot for shot retelling—and what fun would that be if it was? I instead expect the filmmakers to take liberties, and I look forward to seeing how an alternate version of a story I am already familiar with would play out.

With all of that being said, I think the filmmakers of this movie should have stuck closer to how the book ended. I remember reading the book and thinking about how well it would have played out on screen. From the showdown between the characters, and just generally how everything went down, I thought the book ended in a pretty climactic, intense, and almost cinematic way. The filmmakers then took a risk and made some big changes to the ending. By altering which characters were involved, and altering how things played out, the filmmakers delivered an ending that definitely fell short of the book’s ending.

Grading Scale






























Grade: B+ (85 pts)

I read the book, loved it, got excited to watch the movie, watched it, and I really enjoyed the movie too. Horns was a compelling character story with an interesting supernatural element to it. Despite his innocence, Ig Perrish was blamed around town for murdering the love of his life, while the real killer was still walking free. That is a compelling story, before even considering the horns growing out of Ig’s head. The horns gave Ig abilities that paired really well with his story. They brought out his anger and frustration, and they were essential in his quest for answers. The horns gave the story a unique supernatural flavor, but the best part of the book was still its characters.

They were obviously less developed in the movie, but I thought the filmmakers still did a pretty decent job with it. Ig’s story was certainly dark, and heavy, but Ig’s abilities provided some humor along the way. Joe Hill did a good job of balancing this in the book, and the filmmakers did a decent job of balancing it in the movie. I liked the book a lot, and while I think it would have been better served as a limited series, I thought the filmmakers did a pretty good job with the screen-time that they had. It was an interesting and heavy character story with a fun, unique, and supernatural twist.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Movie Beasts


Movie Beasts (author) from MA on October 29, 2019:

Thanks for the tip! Yeah, he has definitely chosen a number of unusual, but good movies

Liza from USA on October 29, 2019:

You should! I'm actually surprised by Daniel Radcliffe's performance after been watching him as a boy wizard :) He's a good actor.

Movie Beasts (author) from MA on October 29, 2019:

I have not seen The Woman In Black. I’ll have to check that one out!

Liza from USA on October 29, 2019:

I liked this movie. I think this was the first Harry Radcliffe movie I watched after the Harry Potter series. The Woman In Black was pretty good too.

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