A film that seems to have been conceived by a bunch of frat boys on a bad acid trip, "Horns" is not only overlong and ridiculous, but an almost incomprehensible mashup of mystery, romance, raunchy comedy and horror. It's a freaked-out mess, the kind of movie where the best thing in it is the use of the classic David Bowie song "Heroes."
Desperately attempting to shed all things Harry Potter, Daniel Radcliffe stars as Ig Perrish, who, in the wake of his girlfriend's mysterious death, wakes up one morning to find that he has sprouted horns. Because this is not exactly a culturally significant moment on the level of Franz Kafka's absurdist masterpiece "The Metamorphosis," in which a man is turned into a giant insect, director Alexandre Aja's film decides to delve directly into snarky R-rated filth - Ig's horns seem to elicit dark secrets and bad behavior (much of it sexual) from everyone he meets - before settling into a murder mystery of sorts.
Who killed Merrin (Juno Temple), Ig's girlfriend? Why does everyone think Ig did it? And gol-darn it, why should we care? Probably because Ig and Merrin have been a couple since they were kids, but on the day Ig decides to propose marriage, Merrin says she's moving to L.A. from Washington State, and doesn't say why she wants to break up. The next day, she turns up dead.
All well and good. But with Ig sprouting what look like ram's horns throughout much of the film, and all sorts of Biblical/Satanic symbolism thrown in - Snakes! Pitchforks! A winged demon! - "Horns" soon becomes irritating and ludicrous. Is it, in fact, some sort of religious allegory? Hardly, what with all the sex gags. How about a tragic love story? Supposedly, but it's too demented to engender sympathy. And it doesn't help that the inconsistency in tone makes "Horns" feel like you've been traveling on 40 miles of bad road while watching it. Plus, there's an ultra-violent, gross-out ending, the last refuge of hack filmmakers.
You have to feel for Radcliffe. He's proven he's a solid non-Potter presence, on Broadway ("How To Succeed Without Really Trying") and film ("Kill Your Darlings"). But here he's been directed to be in high dudgeon at every moment, which makes his character unsympathetic and really, really annoying.
At nearly two hours, "Horns" is about 30 minutes longer than it needs to be. But it's doubtful even a shorter version would cure what ails this film. Maybe you have to be tripped out on LSD to appreciate it.