UK Release Date: 29th October 2014
Runtime: 120 minutes
Director: Alexandre Aja
Writer: Keith Bunin
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Juno Temple, Max Minghella, Joe Anderson, Heather Graham, Kelli Garner
Synopsis: After his girlfriend’s murder, a young man is vilified by the press. He then grows bizarre horns on his head that let him hear people’s dark thoughts.
Of all of the major Harry Potter alumni, Daniel Radcliffe has had the most varied career since the end of the franchise. Following horror film The Woman In Black, historical drama Kill Your Darlings and quirky romcom What If, the former boy wizard takes centre stage in the interesting and bizarre dark fantasy Horns.
The brilliantly named Ig Perrish (Radcliffe) is hounded by the media and the residents of his small town after the murder of his girlfriend Merrin (Juno Temple). He wakes up one morning with horns on his head that enable him to hear the darkest thoughts of those around him. With the help of his brother Terry (Joe Anderson) and their friend Lee (Max Minghella), he vows to find the real killer.
From its opening moments, it is clear that Horns is a movie from the dark mind of Alexandre Aja. There’s a feel of Switchblade Romance to the whole thing as dark romance intertwines with horror to generate a strange, intense fantasy film. Aja’s footprints create a mischievous tone that really benefits the film as it toes the line between horror and humour to great effect. Some of the comedy grabs a little too desperately at the funny bone, but there are certainly a number of big laughs in it.
| "How about you guys beat the shit out of each other and the winner gets an exclusive interview with me?"
There’s a certain genre schizophrenia that underlies Horns. It was marketed as a Halloween horror film, but it isn’t sure if it wants to be that at all. There’s aspects of dark romance, a core of fantasy narrative, plenty of black comedy and an interesting detective yarn. All of these genres slam into each other regularly and this does leave the film somewhat lacking in a clear identity, but it also gives it a tonne of fun and unpredictability.
Then there’s Daniel Radcliffe. Boasting a fairly questionable American accent, he does his trademark bewilderment very well, but also brings a level of badassery to the table that you wouldn’t expect from a speccy sorcerer. The role takes some challenging turns in the third act, but Radcliffe is equal to them. He is choosing very interesting roles and that should continue as he carves out an adult career.
Juno Temple is great as Radcliffe’s girlfriend, combining sexiness and vulnerability to incredible effect. It’s easy to see how she could enchant Radcliffe, because she does a great job of enchanting the audience as well. Max Minghella also excels, but suffers when his character becomes a little cartoonish later on.
| "You killed that poor girl… and now the devil has claimed you."
Horns is a film out of control. It retreats into downright lunacy in its third act, but it’s never anything other than enormously entertaining. Aja provides a sure hand behind the camera, even though he could’ve done with a hand on his shoulder to minimise some of the insanity.
Pop or Poop?
There should be plenty of praise for Horns as a film that takes the notion of a genre hybrid to a new level. Alexandre Aja imbues Horns with mischief, impish wit and a real mean streak.
Daniel Radcliffe sheds his Hogwarts robes convincingly in his oddest and most challenging role yet, with an ethereal Juno Temple supporting him.
It stays just the right side of silly for the majority of its runtime and is sure to leave the audience with plenty to talk about.
Five points to Gryffindor!
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.