Daniel Radcliffe has well and truly left that zagged Harry Potter scar behind by playing the protagonist Iggy Perrish in the Joe Hill horror fantasy, Horns. The 25 year old English actor has taken another dark step into the world of horror after his first visit in the 2012 film The Woman in Black (Based on a long running West End play of the same name in London.) In both films the young performer who cut his acting teeth in the world of wizards, muggles and Hogwarts, leaves behind his J.K. Rowling character to play more grown up and dark roles.
Directed by Alexandre Aja (The Hills Have Eyes, Mirrors) who steps away from remaking the work of others in the film world and helms this original work adapted by Keith Burin (in his first feature film screenplay) from Joe Hill’s novel Horns, published in 2010. Hill, the offspring of the world’s most successful and famous writer of horror fiction, Stephen King, has proven with his career thus far that the acorn really does not fall far from the tree. With a writing style all his own, Mr. Hill obviously draws from the same well of creativity and has the ability to make his characters feel real. The author also shares his father’s knack of making the reader feel empathy for all the characters in his verse.
The same can be said for the director’s effort in bringing Horns to the big screen. Aja has made a definite effort to follow the book quite closely. Things are changed here and there, but overall the feeling is the same by the end of the film. Watching the movie it appears that Hill may have better luck with film adaptations of his work, quite unlike his famous father’s books which tend to be slaughtered for the most part when making that transition to film, although there is the odd exception to this rule.
In Horns Daniel Radcliffe, as Perrish, finds himself in a fantasy world of horror after the woman he has loved since they were children is found dead. Raped and savagely beaten, Merrin, played by Juno Temple (Killer Joe, Maleficent) is found in the woods at the base of a tree house that she and Iggy used to frequent and the place where they first made love. Iggy is beside himself with grief and after drunkenly sleeping with another childhood friend, Glenna Shepherd, played by Kelli Garner (Pan Am, The Lie), he wakes with horns sprouting from his forehead.
With these new accessories, Iggy finds that everyone, with the exception of his best friend Lee, played by Max Minghella (The Mindy Project, About Alex), tell him some really odd and terrible things, he also learns he can make people do what he wants. With this new and strange power, along with his growing horns, Perrish sets out to learn who murdered the love of his life and punish them accordingly.
Horns has a distinguished cast, David Morse (The Green Mile, Contact and on a sidenote the actor is actually reading the audio version of Stephen King’s latest book Revival) plays Merrin’s bitter and grieving father, Kathleen Quinlan (The Hills Have Eyes, Event Horizon) plays Iggy’s mother and Heather Graham (Boogie Nights, From Hell) is the waitress who lies about Perrish so she can become famous. All the performers did brilliantly in their parts, and kudos should be given to Joe Anderson (The Crazies, The Grey) as Terry, Iggy’s big brother with the drug problem.
This film had a limited release at the end of October 2014 and was made pretty much immediately available via Video on Demand (VoD) and other streaming services, Amazon, iTunes, etc. This is an entertaining film with moments of horror intermingled with the fantasy element of the story, which feels like it skirts the edge of religious convention. Joe Hill’s novel, Horns is a splendid book in and of itself and this cinematic version with Daniel Radcliffe as the main protagonist is an excellent attempt at retelling the story on screen. The audience do not need to read Hill’s brilliant book to enjoy the film. Prepare to be swept up in this tale of love, regret and a search for truth.
By Michael Smith