“How about you guys beat the shit out of each other and the winner gets an exclusive interview with me?”
I must admit that I admire Daniel Radcliffe at this moment. He does his utmost best to shake off the mark of “Harry Potter”. After years waving around with a magic wand as an apprentice, he aimed his attention to very different projects, soundly deviating from what we are used of him. “The woman in black” was a box-office hit but still had the same atmosphere as his previous work : dark, macabre and it took place in a scary, old mansion (A kind of tiny Hogwarts). “Kill your Darlings” is a totally different category. A philosophical tinted film about revolutionary poets and writers and where Radcliffe probably had to browse intensely through some manuals about homosexuality. And then there is “Horns”. A religiously tinged horror with a hefty dose of humor as additive. However, all this can’t hide the fact that the basis of the film is a pure romantic story about embracing love and persuasion to undermine this because fate has decided otherwise.
Add to this a sort of detective story, an old-fashioned revenge motif and a whodunit theme, and you’ll soon conclude that this is a melting pot of different genres. At one point I didn’t know whether I had to watch it in a relaxing way or in a tense way. Some humorous parts were just attempts to be funny, while the gore horror-like scenes were sometimes laughable. I also thought the motive to saddle Ig with a pair of oversized horns, was rather unclear. Was it because he had to undergo the wrath of God after vandalizing some religious symbols? Or was it a symbolic sign for the demons that lingered inside him ? Or was it Satan himself who granted him the opportunity of a demonic force so he could track down the perpetrator ?
The original story was written by Joe Hill (son of Stephen King), and tells the tale of Ig Perrish (Daniel Radcliffe), who is accused of murdering his girlfriend Merrin (June Temple). Despite the fact that he keeps saying he’s innocent, he is treated as a pariah by his hometown and is continuously chased by a gang of paparazzi. Until one day he wakes up with a pair of horns on his forehead. The weird thing is that people spontaneously confess their deepest secrets and obsessions whenever they are near Ig. This leads to some hilarious scenes like visiting the doctor, the gang of journalists, the patrolling police officers or the scene in the local pub. And always you’ll see a bewildered Radcliffe who doesn’t understand what’s going on. Ok, this was fun at the beginning, but after a few times applying this trick, it gets boring. Ultimately, only Ig’s brother and his friend Lee continue to support him. Lee is a lawyer and he helps the heavy drinking Ig in a legal way. His brother Terry dwells mostly higher spheres because of the massive use of drugs, but ultimately he’s the only one of the family that still believes in the innocence of Ig.
Radcliffe pulls out all the stops to bring the figure Ig as credible as possible. It’s his merit that you feel sympathy for this man who stands at the edge looking into the abyss. A desperate victim who by his frantic attempt to apprehend the offender, degenerates into a cruel demonic character with a bunch of snakes as companionship. The transformation Radcliffe undergoes towards the end is wonderful to see. But despite the weathered look and stubble of an alcoholic, Radcliffe continues to look like a teenager. Only Temple can still convince as the charming childhood love of Ig who’s also fighting her own demons. The rest of the cast has little impact or plays merely a supporting role. The denouement is a mix of fantasy and horror elements. Apart from a few gore fragments, it’s a typical story of which one could make a perfect episode for “Tales of the Crypt.” In terms of entertainment, it’s quite successful, but it’s not of a real high level. A demonic comedy one does not really know which direction it wants to go.