An adaptation of Joe Hill’s novel of the same name, Horns is a fantasy fable that works well for scattered stretches of its very bloated runtime, but is too tone-deaf everywhere else to fully satisfy. It tells the story of Ig Parrish (Radcliffe, doing some fine work with rage, despair, and an American accent), a man wrongfully accused of the rape and murder of his girlfriend, Merrin (Temple), but unable to muster much of a legal defence, or even sympathy. One morning, he awakens with a set of devilish horns upon his skull, which makes anyone in his presence compelled to reveal their own personal demons and act out sins. With his new powers, Ig goes gumshoe to try and solve Merrin’s murder.
Though the dark comedy of the confession sequences provide some of the best moments, it sits uncomfortably alongside depictions of Merrin’s turmoil and demise. At times it feels like director Alexandre Aja wants this to be Twin Peaks with added fire and brimstone (he even got former Lynch cinematographer Frederick Elmes on board), but he’s not nearly as skilled at blending comedy with tragedy and melodrama. He also can’t salvage a disastrous, effects-heavy third act where the film pulls all sorts of new rules out of its rectum. Horns’ tonal fluctuations undermine its attempted emotional heft.