Movie review: Daniel Radcliffe's Horns is diabolical, delicious, disconnected

Ig’s (Radcliffe) strange power makes people say shocking things. -- PHOTO: GOLDEN VILLAGE
Ig’s (Radcliffe) strange power makes people say shocking things. -- PHOTO: GOLDEN VILLAGE

Review Fantasy drama

HORNS (M18)

120 minutes/Opens tomorrow/**1/2

The story: Ig Perrish (Daniel Radcliffe) is accused of raping and murdering his girlfriend Merrin (Juno Temple). One day, horns start growing on his head, which give him the bizarre ability to compel other people to reveal their deepest secrets and desires. Intent on clearing his name, he decides to use the newfound power to force others to tell the truth so that he can learn who the murderer is.

Harry Potter gets a different set of magic powers here, with horns that force the people around him to reveal their innermost desires.

In one of his boldest post-Potter roles yet, Radcliffe has a blast here as the wisecracking, self-serving American who soon puts his newfound supernatural abilities to personal use. Essentially, Ig is everything that the noble boy wizard was not.

As he discovers his strange new powers for the first time, the audience is just as shocked at what they lead people to blurt out.

Ig's trusted doctor, for example, suddenly declares that he hates his job because "all you f*****g patients only care about yourselves", before he starts having sex with his nurse right in the middle of a surgical procedure.

His own parents, too, moodily reveal that they never believed him to be innocent of murder and that they wished he could just move away.

It is in these darkly comic scenes that the movie truly succeeds, because haven't we all had that impulse to say what we really think?

The fact that Ig is completely unapologetic about taking it all in and then making the people act on their secret desires, makes it all the more hilarious.

He happily initiates a bloody gang fight among a group of eager TV reporters when he tells them that he will give the winner of the brawl an exclusive interview.

But as soon as Ig decides to use his horns to help solve Merrin's case, the film instantly becomes much too self-serious. Worse, the second half of the film in tone simply feels too disconnected from the first.

Plenty of heavy themes such as religion and isolation are also thrown in, all of which feels greatly forced, though that may have been a case of screenwriter Keith Bunin trying too hard to adhere to the original novel by Joe Hill which the film is based on.

Director Alexandre Aja, known for making slasher flicks such as High Tension (2003) and the 2006 remake of The Hills Have Eyes, should have stuck to exploring Ig's deliciously diabolical ways.

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