Is it possible to recommend people see the worst movie of the year? Kinda
To call Horns the worst movie of all time is neither fair nor completely accurate. I have seen thousands of movies, and many hundreds of those were downright terrible. Most of the terrible ones you give up watching as soon as you’re able, or walk away from the experience with an admixture of disgust and resentment. But the terribleness that is Horns isn’t like that — it’s a train-wreck of such consummate incompetence it becomes, in a weird way, entertaining. Put another way: Horns is a movie so bad, it doubles-back on itself which — while that does not make it better — makes it almost unmissable.
It’s rare to see a film so misguided, so frequently unaware of what it wants to be, that you almost can’t look away. It’s like watching The Real Housewives or Ann Coulter trying to sound reasonable — you can’t believe it, but you’re addicted to it. The director, Alexandre Aja, clearly has no idea what genre of movie Horns wants to be, and so he makes it every kind. All at once. And in turn. Continually.
Consider: It starts off trying to be a sex thriller like Gone Girl, with Iggy (Daniel Radcliffe, who must have agreed to make it on a dare), a small-town man being hounded by media and activists for having apparently gotten away with killing his girlfriend (Juno Temple). Iggy destroys the shrine to her, pissing on the Virgin Mary and kicking the pieta, but soon after begins to grow horns out of his temples. This is the film’s attempt to become a religious parable a la The Exorcist (though much cheesier). When people see the horns, though, rather than turn in fright, they find themselves compelled to confess their sins and deepest desires to him … then act out on them. Now, it has become a supernatural thriller like Needful Things.
All of that could work if the confessions didn’t devolve into insane comic set-pieces (now it’s Liar, Liar), all while Iggy recalls his childhood (and we enter the coming-of-age realm of Stand by Me) before it finally becomes a gruesome splatterfest (Halloween, maybe?) that makes zero sense. It’s also waaayy too long.
There’s not an authentic moment in the heavy-handed symbolism (Iggy drives around in an AMC Gremlin, which wasn’t even a very clever joke 35 years ago when people still knew what the damn car was, and he emerges from a burning building in a cloud of brimstone), the terrible acting (Heather Graham’s on hand, just to make sure of it) or the awkward direction.
Poor Harry Potter is trying so hard to grow up onscreen — last year, he played gay (and bottomed!) in Kill Your Darlings. Here, he tries to prove he’s not a teenaged wizard anymore by saying “fuck,” urinating in public and letting snakes crawl over him (has he reconciled with Voldemort?), but mostly you just feel sorry for him and everyone else — including otherwise capable actors like James Remar, David Morse and Kathleen Quinlan — trying to keep a straight face while talking to a young man sporting a set of antlers. Fail.
The movie opens (on Halloween) at just one theater in the Metroplex, but is available via VOD. Best not to let anyone see you watching it. But you might wanna stream it anyway — it’s kinda fun to be on the ground floor of a cult film that sets a new low in every particular.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 31, 2014.