Daniel Radcliffe is one of those few child actors that has not only been able to step away from his childhood star turning role and transition into adult roles successfully. He has been taking a wide variety of roles from romantic comedy to horror and with his latest film Horns looks like he plans to keep that trend alive. The film is already intriguing enough, but with director Alexander Aja who made waves with his awesome horror film Haute Tension aka High Tension could they have a hit on their hands or will it be an experiment from hell that just doesn’t deliver?
Horns follows a man blamed for the murder of his girlfriend and ostracized by everyone he knows, who awakens one morning to find he’s grown a pair of horns. Armed with the supernatural powers they possess, he sets out to find the true killer. In addition to Radcliffe the film sports a good cast including Juno Temple, Heather Graham, David Morse, James Remar, Jo Anderson, and Max Minghella. The trailer seemed intriguing and looked like it was either going to work really well or be so far left field that it could miss that mark. While there are a few speed bumps here and there it manages to deliver pretty well and way better than you may think. The story is actually pretty simple but infuses just a few twists and turns to help it stand out, but it’s Radcliffe that really knocks this film out of the park. Radcliffe brings his A game to the role bringing the wide variety of emotions needed to make the role work. While this story is a bit out there it somehow keeps itself grounded despite the supernatural aspects that are in the background. The trailer has a very dark tone to the film and while this isn’t a false depiction it sports a lot more dark comedy as well that helps make it all the more entertaining. There is very little explaination regarding the horns themselves, but somehow still works perfectly and helps to not cloud it with nonsense.
The film give syou just enough information to set up the situation Radcliffe is in when the film opens, but quickly moves away to his situation with his newly formed fashion statement. As this aspect builds they use a series of flashbacks that set up the relationship of all involved and while this part is useful to the story the do go on a bit too long at times with a little too much information that is not all that necessary. This in no way hurts the film, it would have just stream lined it a bit more. Once they shift the focus back to Radcliffe, his horns, and the investigation of his girls’ murder things get even better. There are numerous really clever uses of his new found powers that are both funny and over the top in a way that keeps the film moving, engaging, and pretty funny at times. Radcliffe is great here and looks to be having a great time with the role, really giving into the spirit of it all. He has a few scenes with David Morse who plays his girlfriend’s father that are just killer. They banter back and forth bringing pain, rage, and passion to their characters and each other that really bring home what each character is dealing with. Once the film gets to the big reveal it takes a few different directions and sadly is where the end of the film misses the mark a bit as it just isn’t all that exciting. The reveal is a bit understated and never really feels as powerful as the rest of the movie. It still works fine, but just needed something more to help it push it over the edge. This sequence also cranks up the supernatural aspect with some really cool directions, but there is some CGI work involving snakes that could have been a bit better.
Despite these minor short comings at the end, the film manages to deliver a bizarre twisted love story that works way better than you might have thought. There are some religious undertones that may put off some, but they are so subtle and vital to the story that they work and never become a preachy moment of any kind. Aja who normally loves to let the blood flow it pretty toned down here with the exception of a couple of moments, and has crafted his most ambitious film to date to perfection. Watch the trailer if you want, but try going into this film with little knowledge and just let it unfold in front of you and enjoy the bizarre brilliance of it all.