Daniel Radcliffe is trying his hardest to not be typecast as Harry Potter. He is taking all sorts of bizarre roles in order to branch out, and one such role was the lead in the 2013 movie Horns. Radcliffe plays a man accused of raping and murdering his girlfriend. He soon starts to grow a set of horns, which have special powers. Everyone around him can’t help but tell the truth, as well as their darkest secrets. He decides to use this ability to find his girlfriend’s real killer.
The setup is kind of outlandish, but I suppose in the right hands it could have been a great movie. Unfortunately, not much really works. The tone is wildly inconsistent, jumping from horror to comedy to dolefully sad. This mash-up of genres works to the detriment of the film. Had it been able to maintain a consistent tone (any of them would have fine), it would have been much more effective.
Radcliffe himself does a pretty good job. He does have a laughable American accent, but if you forget about that, his performance was strong enough to carry the film. You do get lost in his sense of confusion and anger over the new horns and his desire for revenge. The rest of the cast turn in one-note performances, and Heather Graham is particularly strange as she chews scenery more than anyone I’ve seen in recent memory.
Overall, this is a weak movie. The plot isn’t riveting, the performances are bad, the directing is mediocre, and the tone is all over the place. The only saving graces are the lead’s performance, and the concept. Too bad they couldn’t get it more together.
The Seventh Seal
Let me just get this out of the way first: The Seventh Seal was not bad enough to qualify for a Classically Shitty review, but it is in no way an ultimate classic film that every movie lover needs to watch.
The Seventh Seal is about a medieval knight who wanders around Europe with no discernible purpose in his life. He meets Death who tells him his time is up. The knight makes a wager with Death: if he can beat Death in a game a chess, he will get to live. Death agrees.
The concept was cool, I’ll give it that, but the chess game is a complete afterthought in what comes next. The knight and his squire wander around meeting people and doing little. The movie showcases various people in different walks of life grappling with hunger, poverty, disease, witchcraft, and other maladies prominent in the Middle Ages. The movie is about humanity rather than the chess game.
You know what? That’s all fine and good, and I don’t have a problem with that. But the chess game should have gotten a more of the spotlight. And, no, I don’t mean we should have literally watched them play chess. I mean, there should have been more tension, a greater sense of growing dread, or even a cat-and-mouse-style of interplay between the knight and Death. As it is, the movie is fairly flat in its emotions. I guess we are meant to feel pity for the downtrodden people, but few other emotions are evoked. The only scene that gave me any kind of emotional reaction was when the knight realizes he is going to lose his chess game, and “accidentally” knocks the pieces off the board in an attempt to cheat.
The film is decent, I suppose, but I really don’t know why it is considered so influential. Nothing about it is particularly special. I suppose I could read up on it, but I choose not to. I’d rather be an uninformed nitwit.