Horrorfest 2015 Presents: Horns (2013, Alexandre Aja)


Imagine you are given the power to know what people are thinking. Sounds great, right? Well there is a catch: you have a pair of horns sticking out of your head, and the Devil has given you power to find out the truth. Someone killed your beloved and this is the only way to figure out the truth and clear your name. This is the basis for Horns, a dark horror comedy from the man who gave us The Hills Have Eyes and Piranha remakes.

Daniel Radcliffe turns in an unexpected and powerful performance as Ig, a man accused of murdering his beloved. The film actually works better as a dark comedy than a horror film, yet it abandons most of the comedic elements midway through. Which is too bad, although the rest of the movie still works. I did like how Ig goes from being innocent to being consumed by revenge, as too many movies skip that aspect.

Overall though I feel a tad unsatisfied. I do want to read the book this film is based off of, and I hope that Radcliffe does more horror movies in the future. He seems to be quite good at starring in them, and I’m glad that he escaped the shadow of the Harry Potter films. Also Juno Temple as Merrin, the dead girlfriend, is lovely beyond belief-no wonder Ig fell in love with her. Aja, the film’s director appears to specialize in gory horror films with a aim towards a 70s style. I like his work so far although I haven’t seen his remake of Wes Craven’s 70s cult classic.

Horrorfest 2013 Presents: Immortality/The Wisdom of Crocodiles (1998, Po Chih Leong)


Made before Jude Law became famous, Immortality is a film that I decided to watch after looking through the horror selection of Netflix Instant Viewing and deciding “Hey this looks interesting.” This is as much a monster movie as it is a vampire film, although Law’s seemingly normal doctor kills his prey in the manner of the vampire so it counts. He has a strange disorder that requires not just blood but also the emotions of his victims; therefore he fests only on women who he meets by pretending to being a charming stranger. The problem he encounters is that he finds a woman that he likes from the beginning: in turn he starts to experience feelings of love that complicate his ability to feed and survive. If a vampire falling in love with a human and not killing her sounds familiar, well that forms the basis of the Twilight series. While I’m not sure that a series I really despise ripped off this movie, it wouldn’t shock me. Anyways Innocent Blood from 1992 really did the whole “Vampire and human fall in love bit” even earlier, and I’m sure there is another film that also covered a similar subject.

However in this case Law’s Steven has bigger problems: the police are on to him after a couple previous “girlfriends” died mysteriously, and there happens to also be a menacing gang of street toughs. He is forced to protect Anne from such thugs in a scene that is funny yet also kind of cool. Apparently being a vampire means you know how to fight, although perhaps Steven like most vampires has enhanced powers. Still that’s not even the highlight of the film-I much prefer the scene where Steven and the cop pursing him, Inspector Healey (Timothy Spall) discuss the nature of evil and what it takes for someone to lie to people, to be a truly horrible person. A moment like makes this film more above the typical level of a vampire film, and not enough of them properly flesh out or even dare to humanize their main vampire characters.

Tragic, romantic, and actually creepy, Immortality was a pleasant surprise during my Horrorfest viewing. Elina Löwensohn is a natural as Anne, a woman clearly in over her head yet refusing to give up Steven despite her judgment telling her otherwise. This film has a sense of both style and grace that is intoxicating and engaging, mediating upon the nature of the beast and the beast’s interactions with others. I also much prefer the other title The Wisdom of Crocodiles because it fits the movie better and is a more accurate representation of what the film is truly about. Particularly since at times Steven has the manner and habits of the crocodile, a great watery reptile that lurks in the reeds, waiting to pick off its dinner at the most opportune moment.

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