We may be used to seeing Daniel Radcliffe waving a wand at Hogwarts or being terrorised by an evil spirit on the creepy moors, but this time the former wizard is taking on his horniest role yet in Alexandre Aja’s Horns.
Inspired by the bestselling novel of the same name, Horns tells the story of Ig Perrish (Radcliffe, The Woman in Black), a young man accused of brutally killing his girlfriend, Merrin (Juno Temple, The Dark Knight Rises).
Waking up on the floor, clutching an empty bottle, Ig looks as though he’s has had a heavy night – but he’s about to have the worst hangover of his life.
With news reporters looming outside all desperate to get a confession on camera, Ig is adamant that he didn’t kill his childhood girlfriend.
But things start to get a little weird for Ig as horns begin to grow from his forehead – and they ‘hurt like hell’. And even stranger; people keep confessing their darkest secrets, asking Ig for permission to commit sins, creating some great black comedy moments.
One girl asks if she can finish off an entire box of donuts, while a receptionist asks if she can shout at a mother for letting her child scream in a doctor’s waiting room. The funnier confessions come from a waitress played by Heather Graham (Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me), but I won’t ruin those.
Although these dark moments are funny, the humour runs dry very quickly, with each odd confession trying to top the last. A scene with a doctor and nurse was less funny and more ‘onto the next’.
Despite seeing the horns at first as a curse, Ig soon realises that he can use their powers to his advantage – to get a confession from Merrin’s real killer.
The back story is all told through some slightly annoying flashbacks – from when Ig and Merrin first met as children to Ig’s love of blowing things up with his friends and of course, eventually we see Merrin’s murder. But with almost a two hour runtime, it’s a little dragged out and there are a few too many red herrings thrown into the mix.
It’s a brave turn for Daniel Radcliffe, giving the actor a chance to embrace his dark side since his Hogwarts days – gone is his sweet British accent and round rimmed glasses. Instead stands a rough and ready American in this devilish supernatural story. And Juno Temple does a stunning job as the innocent victim.
Featuring conflicts with religion, parental abandonment (seriously, they really tell it how it is) and some gruesome snake scenes, this has horror written all over it. And the special effects truly are superb. But it also has a heart, which is the film’s driving force from start to finish.
There are some uncomfortable scenes along the way – a confrontation between Ig and his drug addict brother Terry (Joe Anderson, The Grey) springs to mind – but it’s well worth a watch for the climactic finale.
The story itself is a clever one and perhaps one that didn’t need the horns and supernatural thrills. Yes, they are a quirky element that adds not only supernatural fun and some black comedy, but this is essentially a murder mystery. And without the horns, what would they have called the movie?