If you’d asked me what I thought of Daniel Radcliffe before I’d sat down to watch his turn in Alexandrea Aja’s ‘Horns‘, I very well might have leered at you and told you to suck a lemon. The guy couldn’t act to save his life and had about as much screen presence as an invisible potato with social anxiety.
But in this role as the suspected murderer of his long-time girlfriend who just so happens to wake up with a pair of horns sprouting from his forehead, the boy done good by being bad.
Joe Hill’s book by the same name has become quite the cult classic and so it obviously needed to hit the big screen. Translating it from the page to the screen is no easy feat; I do not envy the writers of its synopsis on IMDb. Granting unexplained and nefarious powers to bring out the worst in people, Iggy starts on a path to find out the truth and to rid himself of his pariah status amongst the local community. Oh, and he grows horns – did I mention that already?
Confusingly billed as a horror film, Horns doesn’t quite fit the label as it seems to genre-hop on a whim, much to my chagrin. One second it’s a murder mystery, the next a dark comedy and at one point it resembles what can only be described as ‘Twilight-lite’. It’s one of the real negative points of the picture as it just really isn’t sure of itself and refuses to be pigeonholed, which means that it never cements its own identity.
That’s not to say that ‘Horns‘ is a bad film as there is plenty to get interested in and give a subtle nod of approval to, one of those being the excellent Radcliffe. After fucking off his typecast quite successfully in ‘Kill Your Darlings‘ and ‘The Woman in Black’, he delivers a career-high performance and dare I say it, an award-winning one. Not suggesting that the Academy will come calling but Fangoria should be throwing everything they have at him after this – he delivers a better American accent than most of the U.S natives in the cast.
The opening half an hour is simply a riot when Iggy is discovering and playing with the extent of his new powers. Outbursts from locals are brilliantly lewd and Radcliffe shows a surprising comic knack to bounce off them, but once the initial flashback kicks in, the momentum is lost and everything becomes increasingly…hodge-podge. Events take a turn down the boulevard of broken dreams as everything becomes a little overwrought and you can’t help but think what could have been if Aja has just reined it in a bit. One or two plotholes also detract from a film that could have matched the cult success of its source material if only the direction had been a little tighter.
All in all, ‘Horns‘ is a decent film but not one that’s likely to leave an impression long after the credits roll. Unless you’re a tween fan of Radcliffe’s in which case, you may be in for a shock.
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