After his turn in The Woman in Black and now with Daniel Radcliffe starring in Horns, the former Harry Potter star has officially gone to the dark side. Well, sort of. Horns is not a horror movie, but it doesn’t exactly paint the world in broad strokes of color and joy. This is a dark movie and its themes explore the human notion that every single one of us has a little bit of the devil inside. But, is that part of us capable of murder?
Radcliffe is Ig Perrish (great last name) and he and Merrin Williams (a delightful Juno Temple) are madly in love. In fact, their love is the only amour each has ever known. They were childhood friends who became early teenage lovebirds. As teased in the Horns trailer, Ig awakes after a drunken night and doesn’t remember anything -- except the entire town is in an uproar because they believe that he killed Merrin.
Horns is told through a whole lot of back and forth with time. The viewer sees the love affair, and the aftermath of a courtroom trial that went nowhere when evidence burned in a suspicious fire. Ig is free and nobody in this small town is happy about it. Even worse, the entire murder has captivated the nation and the media follows Ig’s every move. We also get clues handed to us throughout with these time-shifting plot lines that add up to an interesting who-done-it.
Complicating things is the fact that Ig awakes one morning with the titular appendages. I mean, if he looks like the devil, he must be the devil.
Director Alexandre Aja (The Hills Have Eyes and Mirrors) has another dark triumph that doesn’t quite fit into one genre and that’s just as well. When you see an Aja movie, you know exactly who wielded the camera. And he’s working from a script by Keith Bunin that does a solid job of capturing the spirit of Joe Hill’s bestselling book.
Radcliffe continues to impress us with his post-Harry Potter work. He has grown into a fascinatingly complex adult actor and to see him stretch himself and portray someone who is not all that likable, so it seems, yet is capable of such life-spanning love, is a true story in nailing character contradiction.
In many ways, Radcliffe plays Ig like he’s one of us and the questions he asks himself of what he, deep down, is capable of doing is an interesting discussion to have in your own mind on the way home.
Our Horns review believes it is not a perfect movie, but it’s pretty darn impressive.
There are plot misdirections that aren’t handled as smoothly as they should be and with the story crossing time between present and past so frequently, there are moments that are clumsily handled. But, the cast and the director elevate the material to a solid mystery that in the end has higher concerns than asking if Radcliffe is the devil or, is he a murderer?
It is more a philosophical trial surrounding the nature of humanity as a whole.