Daniel Radcliffe is an actor that you’re either onboard with or not. Movies In Focus finds his over-enthusiastic off-screen persona a little grating. However, I have to concede that the Harry Potter star is really good in Horns, a fantasy-horror from director Alexandre Aja (Maniac). The film is a well produced piece but the whole thing is too slight to hang a near two hour movie on.
Based on Joe Hills novel, Horns follows Radcliffe’s Ig, a DJ who is accused of brutally murdering his girlfriend Merrin (Juno Temple). Everyone believes that Ig is guilty and things don’t get any better when he grows a set of devil-like Horns on his head. This makes him look even more guilty, but the strange disfigurement gives him the power to hear what people really want to say. Ig uses his new found skills to find who killed Merrin and clear his name.
Movies In Focus wasn’t a big fan of Aja’s last effort Maniac (find out why) and Horns is a step-up. However, the director never really nails the tone of the piece – the comedy never feels real and the darker elements don’t have enough depth. It’s a shame, because Radcliffe does solid work here. He makes Ig feel like a fully rounded character (he even nails the American accent), even though everything around him is underserved.
The novel, Horns is written by Joe Hill, the son of Stephen King and you can see certain King-ian elements within the structure of Aja’s film. The small town vibe and childhood flashbacks are the backbone of many a King tale and they’re on display in all their glory in Horns. I’m not sure if these were in the original book (I’m presuming so) but they’re some of the film’s highlights.
Horns isn’t a great film but I’m sure it’s quirky tone means that it will have its fans. It never feels like a fully-rounded film but Daniel Radcliffe works hard to raise the material. The story is there it’s just that Alexandre Aja has perhaps fumbled the execution.