It does not often happen that a film based on a cult book, the main character of which is played by a young actor who became famous thanks to the adaptation of another cult book (more precisely, books), does not go out into wide distribution and caused discord in the friendly ranks of critics. But with the film “Horns” A.Azh it turned out just like that. And if the decision of the producers not to let “Horn” appear on the big screen is still understandable: after all, this film is not for everyone, then the wide range of critical assessments looks very curious.
Reviewers could not come to a common denominator even in the definition of the genre; what can we say about the controversy, whether the storylines and heroes of J. Hill’s novel are accurately reproduced on the big screen. Only in one thing the critics agree: “Horns” deserve attention, which means that the film is worth a look even for those who not only have not read Hill’s novel, but have not even heard of such a writer.
Novel and film
Released in 2010, Horns is the second major work by American writer Joe Hill. Although Hill is the son of Stephen King, he writes in his own way, clearly gravitating towards surrealism and philosophical digressions. For obvious reasons, all reflections on higher powers remained on paper and were not included in the film adaptation, and the plot has undergone some changes (for example, in the novel, the main character finds out who the killer is at the very beginning, and Terry’s line in the film has been pretty much shredded).
Still, the main difference lies not in the details, but in the author’s concept. In the novel, everything is ambiguous, and even the final act of Marryn with her supernatural altruism is not so simple: wishing to save her beloved from suffering, she plunged his soul into the abyss of hell. In the film, the accents are placed very clearly, and with the distinction between good and evil, unlike the genre, there are no questions.
What genre does the film belong to?
The easiest way is to say which cinematic genre signs are completely absent in “Horns” – this, of course, is a western. All the rest are there: there is a love drama, a detective story, an action movie, a psychological drama, and mysticism with Gothic. Even social comedy has something – in any case, it’s hard not to laugh when the characters voice and realize their secret desires.
But horns and other wonders should not be misleading: this is not a “dark fantasy”, but an excellent example of cinematic surrealism. After all, surrealism is not so much grotesque and absurd as an artistic analysis of the bizarre work of the subconscious, but at the same time, as Buñuel used to say, “a complete denial of existing values.” And that, and another in the film Azh is more than enough.
Why did Iga grow horns?
The horns that Ig has unexpectedly acquired are the main “highlight” of the film and at the same time raise the most questions: why horns, and not something else? It is curious that the image of a hero capable of penetrating the secrets of people worried Hill for a long time. 10 years before The Horns, in the early novel Surreal Glass, the hero acquired this ability thanks to a fantastic lens. But the horns, undoubtedly, look much more spectacular than some kind of lens, and have a much more powerful symbolic meaning.
The first association that arises at the sight of horns is the devil and hell, but horns as a symbol of ancient Christianity. In very many mythologies of the world, horns appear as the embodiment of divine power and masculinity; if a person possesses them, then he stands above other mortals and has supernatural powers. Ig Perrish gets them.
What are the interpretations of what is happening?
If we do not consider “Horns” as a common fantasy, then at least three interpretations of the appearance of horns and subsequent events emerge.
According to the first, we are dealing with a detailed metaphor based on the Christian cultural tradition. Each person has its own demons, invisible to the world. Ig recognized his sinful side, made it visible to everyone, and gained the ability to see the demons around him. If we continue the analysis in this vein, it will become obvious that Iga’s relatives and friends can be viewed as the embodiment of a specific vice, for example, a waitress who is ready to slander a person in order to get on a talk show is the personification of thoughtless and blind vanity.
The second interpretation suggests that everything, including horns, exists exclusively in the mind of the protagonist. There is either a play of imagination – the product of upset nerves, or hallucinations that have arisen on the fertile soil of alcoholic psychosis, or ordinary (more precisely, unusual) fantasies.
The third interpretation is undoubtedly the most original. According to her, Ig was dead a long time ago, he drowned in childhood, and now he has come to the city of sinners to get even with its inhabitants. And here the advanced viewer immediately remembers Silent Hill.
What famous works of cinematography is the film compared to?
Silent Hill, with its dark vision of diabolical justice, is the film critics have compared The Horns to most. The motive of being forsaken by God, undoubtedly, makes both tapes related, and the temptation to draw parallels between Alessa, who was divided into light and dark halves, and Yog, who turned from an ordinary young man into an invulnerable creature with horns, is quite great. But the “Horns” have no less in common with another cult work – the TV series “Twin Peaks”: from the image of a town where everyone has a double bottom, to a waitress with a cherry pie.
Among the audience there were those who wanted to remember about the film adaptations of Rowling’s novels, but this comparison is unconvincing and is based solely on the personality of the leading actor, although in Game Perrish, faithfully played by Daniel Radcliffe, there is nothing from Harry Potter.
What’s the point of the movie?
At first glance, the main idea lies on the surface, but the idea that good and evil are fighting in every person and that everyone wears masks is too commonplace to be the only meaning of the film. “Horns” throw up many interesting questions to the viewer, but the most interesting one, perhaps, sounds like this: do you need to take off the masks? The story, played out in the unremarkable city of Gideon Bay, shows that the complete nakedness of souls with all their dark basements full of monsters and sinful desires can turn life into a surreal nightmare.
The ability to read another like an open book makes normal communication with that other nearly impossible, and should be seen as a burden, not a gift. And if it is impossible to get rid of demons, then the most reasonable thing is to keep them under maximum control, not to let your own people out and not to let strangers stick out.