Once Harry, now horny [Review]

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Photo courtesy of screenrant.com

This Comic-Con preview poster of the movie showcases Radcliffe’s grim new role.

Jarrett Rodriguez, Managing Editor

4/5

A fable of black comedy and horror, “Horns” manages to set itself apart from the usual Halloween films you see this time of year.

Based on a novel by Joe Hill, the son of legendary writer Stephen King, “Horns” tells the story of Ig Perrish (Daniel Radcliffe), who is wrongly accused of murdering and raping his girlfriend by a town that has already deemed him a black sheep. When Ig wakes up with horns growing out his head, he begins to experiment with his newly acquired supernatural abilities that they give him in order to find the person who murdered his girlfriend.

Radcliffe comes out with a strong performance as Ig. He sets out to make a name for himself post-Harry Potter, and Ig is as anti-Potter as possible. As Ig learns about his powers, he turns towards the darkness, making people fight and punishing people for their sins. Watching him make reporters beat each other up for an interview with him is a standout scene, accompanied perfectly by Marilyn Manson’s “Personal Jesus.”

It’s good that Radcliffe shows strong acting skills because his love interest Merrin Williams (Juno Temple) does not fare as well. Temple comes off very cheesy and wooden in her love scenes with Radcliffe. The chemistry is just not believable. But without spoiling any plot twists, her more dramatic scenes are well-acted. The diner scene with Radcliffe is done so well it is hard not to feel the sting of it all.

The supporting cast of characters is decent, but there was no real standout performance outside of Radcliffe’s Ig. Lee, Ig’s best friend (Max Minghella), is solid in his performance, but does not steal the film. Watching the supporting cast confess their worst sins and ideas was funny and dark, from the mother who wants to leave her kid and run away to the guy who wants to flash everyone. When things take a darker turn, the movie breaks the tension with humor, and these confessions are really the source of the comedy.

Visually, the movie is stunning. Ig’s transformation from human to devil is mixed with great special and practical effects. Watching the horns grow is fantastic on its own; throw in a lot of snakes and a pitchfork and you have the perfect example of the Devil himself. Also worth mentioning are the filming locations, which perfectly capture a seemingly quaint town with an underlying problem.

“Horns” is the surprise film of the year. Though it does have some problems, mostly campy dialogue and underacted performances, it is saved by a strong performance from Radcliffe, great visual effects for a low-budget film and a combination of dark and funny moments. If big-budget horror films with lots of jump scares are not what you are looking for this Halloween, try “Horns” — it’s smart and stylish without overstaying its welcome.