WARNING – THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS!
This contains a fair amount of surprises, not least of which that despite the superficial elements of mythology and religious satire, it is at heart a powerful love story about the sacrifices people will make for the one they truly love.
So that was unexpected.
I was aware of French director Alexandre Aja’s reputation, having been very impressed with his New Extreme film, ‘Haute Tension’ (see my blog post entitled, ‘L’Horreur’ for more details).
Set against that was the god-awful performances that star Daniel Radcliffe routinely turns in – but based on this, young ‘Arry is actually showing signs of starting to be able to act.
So that was unexpected, too.
Aja takes the wise decision of taking a mythic approach to the subject matter, such that we never get an explanation for why protagonist Ig grows Satanic horns, following his becoming the prime suspect in the rape and murder of his girlfriend, Merrin.
He grows horns – that’s not even a spoiler, okay, because you’ve already seen that in the promotional material.
What is a spoiler is that the horns convey upon him the power to elicit from anyone their darkest secrets and desires.
He doesn’t even have to ask and he usually doesn’t, as a string of people tell him things he doesn’t want to know and the screenplay relishes in the everyday depravities of ordinary people:
- Veronica, the waitress whose ‘evidence’ looks likely to convict him gleefully admits to making it all up to become famous
- A bunch of reporters are easily goaded into a brutal brawl, initiated by their unscrupulous ambition
- A pair of cops who he has known since childhood admit to a lifelong sexual infatuation with each other
- Ig’s mother confesses that she doesn’t want him as her son, whilst his father asserts that Merrin was actually the better part of him
It’s all a bit harsh.
There is a very competent plot twist around the end of the second act (which I’m not going to disclose because I’m not all about the spoilers) and a satisfactorily dark conclusion.
Oh, watch out for Heather Graham as Veronica – didn’t she used to be a big star rather than a bit player?
IMDB gave this 6.5 and three stars – I think I’d go for 7.0 and three and a half stars, but then I likes my myth and I likes my demons…..