I enjoyed this movie thoroughly, more than I was prepared to, in fact. The trailers had looked amusing, but it’s short theatrical release and mixed reviews prevented me from giving this one a fair shake. It turned out to be a bizarre, twisted whodunit. Very stylish, sort of Brick meets “Supernatural”.
Iggy Perrish (Daniel Radcliffe) is suspected of murder after the love of his life is found murdered. The town and even his own family turn against him. He loses faith in God, and after a drunken bender that sets him pissing on religious artifacts, he sprouts horns. Far from just head gear, those around him start confessing to their deepest -and sometimes darkest- thoughts to him, and caving into their desires at his mere suggestion. Ig uses this to his advantage to punish those who seek to exploit Merrin’s death, and to seek out her true killer.
This film is based on a novel by Joe Hill who wrote the graphic novel series “Locke and Key” and enough short stories to rival his father, Stephen King.
The characters themselves are wonderful, the truth is revealed in bits and pieces. But as always in media, certain tropes are prevalent. The male characters exist in many shades of gray. Radcliffe’s Ig is a mess following the death of his one true love Merrin (Juno Temple), he’s drunk and dirty and hanging by a thread. All understandable, but even in flashbacks, we see that he was never the most capable of his friends -Lee fixes Merrin’s cross necklace that Ig then returns for he appreciation, he nearly drowns on a dare. As an adult, he doesn’t seem to have much going on outside of Merrin. Ig’s brother, Terry (Joe Anderson) is a drug addicted musician, he lies to his brother and he didn’t even try to save Ig when he nearly drowned as a kid. Terry is somewhat of a coward. Lee was always the good friend, the attorney who vows to protect Ig, the friend who saved him from drowning, who stayed friends even after Ig gave him a defective cherry bomb that disfigured his hand. But Lee always coveted Merrin.
The women, however, fit another pattern all together. Glenna is promiscuous and viewed by the town as “trash” -she’s also the only person who truly reaches out to Ig, but this is somewhat overlooked. She could have played a more central role, but instead, Iggy encourages her to but the town in her rearviews and start over. Veronica (Heather Graham) lies about seeing Iggy chasing down Merrin and threatening her on the night she was killed so that she can get attention and see herself on magazine covers. She’s vain and vile. A liar. She has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. But Merrin? Merrin is pure, Merrin flirts via morse code and always wears a cross, she’s shown in beautiful dresses, sunlight radiating off her skin. Even in flashback, Lee points out that “Merrin is different from other girls” and he mentions how trashy Glenna is, and that the older boys only keep Glenna around because she’ll give them handjobs. And like all “perfect” women? Merrin dies. And worse? She dies for it.
And that’s why the whole town is angry, why Ig’s mother wishes he wasn’t her son, why his father thinks that Merrin was the best thing about Iggy. Because she was so pure.
Merrin, the mythical “perfect” woman is missed by everyone in a way that causes unending venom to be spewed at Iggy Perrish while Glenna does a Courtney Love impersonation and vain Veronica has seemingly no morals whatsoever.
But after all that, this is a very good flick.
Iggy brings out the worst in people. They delvolve, their deepest, darkest thoughts are acted upon before his eyes once he turns his back on God and grows horns. But he’s not a personification of evil. That’s hard to understand at first. He claims his innocence while turning into a devil. But he’s presented as a fallen angel and Merrin as an angel. Once he realizes how “persuasive” he is, he starts following leads and interrogating townspeople to find the truth. While the audience discovers that Merrin had a secret of her own. And Iggy must decide who is to blame and if his humanity can be saved.
Great effects, solid plot, consistent rules, unique storyline.