“A well-paced Gumshoe thriller with a touch of the supernatural for extra kick”

by Matt Allen

Certificate: 15
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, David Morse, Juno Temple, Heather Graham, James Remar
Director(s): Alexandre Aja
Screenwriter(s): Keith Bunin
Running Time: 120 mins

Ever got so drunk you’ve woken up with absolutely no memory of the night before? Then you might sympathise with the splitting headache and sinking feeling of guilt that accompanies such a bender. That can usually be chalked up to one hell of a hangover but – in Daniel Radcliffe’s case – it’s more likely to be linked to the Horns twisting out of his head…

After being accused of his girlfriend’s murder, Ig (Radcliffe) wakes up to find demonic horns sprouting from his forehead. Suddenly, the townsfolk are spilling their darkest secrets to him and Ig takes the opportunity to use his new found powers to solve the murder, clear his name and wreak his vengeance.

Unsurprisingly for a film whose central character sports a pair of the devil’s antlers, Horns flirts with the nature of Good and Evil and plays with our preconceptions that they are opposing forces, suggesting instead they are two sides of the same coin. Refreshingly, it doesn’t get bogged down on its own philosophical musings and instead delivers a well-paced Gumshoe thriller with a touch of the supernatural for extra kick.

Ig, using his recently acquired powers of persuasion to his advantage, interrogates the members of his small-town community (all of whom demonised him long before his transformation) in an effort to get to the bottom of his girlfriend’s grisly murder. As it turns out, the townsfolk aren’t as free of sin as their stone casting might suggest and soon Ig proves he is willing to raise Hell in his efforts to solve the case, leaving a path of burning buildings and brawling journalists in his wake.

Radcliffe, with his inherently demonic features; the fixed gurn and sunken eyes – pulls off the role well and further cements his departure from the specky public schoolboy-who-lived that is likely to cast a faint shadow over him for some time to come. His chemistry with Temple is fairly lacking but this is forgiven considering the minimal screen time they actually have together.

The understated effects are utilised with careful consideration and resist the urge to go too far which plays neatly with the towns’ more or less oblivious reaction to his transformation. The combination of the trademark Indie absurdist element with a genuinely intriguing murder mystery plot makes for a genre piece with an edge.

Well-paced, well-written and well-played; all the right boxes are ticked. Those who might have been deterred by the high-concept should give Horns the benefit of the doubt.

Maniac Rating - 3 Stars