If there’s one thing that I learned from Jake and Elwood Blues (and probably all those years of Catholic school), it’s that the Lord works in mysterious ways. When you ask for help, he’ll provide it somehow, even if it’s not in the way that you initially thought. ‘Harry Potter’ star Daniel Radcliffe learns this lesson in the dark fantasy thriller ‘Horns’ from director Alexandre Aja.
Based on the novel of the same name by Joe Hill, the film follows Radcliffe as Ignatius “Ig” Perrish, a young man accused of the rape and murder of his girlfriend that suddenly finds demonic horns growing on his forehead one day. While uncovering the mystery of the real murderer, he uses the horns’ ability to compel those around him to reveal their darkest secrets in order to clear his name and allow the love of his life to rest in peace.
Now, I could use this space to make Harry Potter references and Slytherin or parseltongue jokes because of all the snakes that show up in the movie, but out of respect for Radcliffe’s excellent performance, I won’t do that. This role as Ig is really unlike anything that he’s done before. Of course, he has done a few more supernatural projects after his time at Hogwarts such as ‘The Woman in Black’ and the upcoming ‘Frankenstein’, but this one stands out as a meatier role. When I say that it’s a dark fantasy thriller, it gets darker and darker as the story progresses and the actor handles it all very nicely. And in an American accent no less! He has really come a long way from ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’, even though he can’t escape deformities appearing on his forehead.
While most of the praise goes to Radcliffe when it comes to acting in this movie, I’ll also give a shout out to Max Minghella, who plays Ig’s best friend and lawyer Lee Tourneau, and the actresses who played Ig’s deceased girlfriend Merrin Williams, Juno Temple and Sabrina Carpenter. All three navigated their own twists and turns very well, including some that I didn’t see coming. Actually, the whole cast was pretty great, but those three particularly stood out. (And I swear Carpenter doesn’t just stand out because she’s in ‘Girl Meets World.’)
As far as the script goes, screenwriter Keith Bunin did a great job of shrouding the story in such a way that as we peeled off each layer of the mystery, we were anxious about what new details were uncovered. Just when you think that you have it all figured out, something new throws you off and your mind is back at work again. It was fun to travel along with Ig and feel what he was feeling along the way.
In the end, I might say that ‘Horns’ is a combination of David Fincher’s ‘Gone Girl’ (except much shorter) meets Kevin Smith’s ‘Dogma’ because it combines dark comedy and religious undertones with an engaging murder mystery. Even though it hits theaters on Halloween, don’t expect any jump scares or supernatural serial killers. Instead, come for the evolution of Daniel Radcliffe as an actor and stay for the tangled web of twistedness that his character must endure for his happy ending. If you’re looking for the other thing, then maybe just check Netflix for something more scream-worthy, but then go see ‘Horns’ later.