The Devil Inside
[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&chan=That Film Guy&asin=057512069X][/pullquote] Former child actors seem to have a new strategy going. While some have their famous roles and then cannot be seen as anything other than that for the rest of their career, new child actors seem to be savvier to this dangerous path and take the approach of doing literally anything other than what their famous for.
Jennifer Lawrence (yeah, I know she wasn’t a child in the The Hunger Games, but the typecasting danger was there all the same) is denying this fresh and early while her big franchise is still going on, barely letting any time pass before she plays a sex addict, a ditzy single mum, and a 1930s-era woman who can’t have children. Daniel Radcliffe, chiefly known for being Harry Potter, seems to be taking this path as well. Since the end of the biggest film franchise of all time, he’s played a 1920s estate agent, poet Allen Ginsberg, and now a man with Horns growing out of his face.
Life for radio DJ Ig Perrish (Daniel Radcliffe) is completely perfect. He has several great friends, a loving girlfriend, Merrin (Juno Temple), and generally is the happiest a person can be. That is until Merrin is murdered, and Ig is blamed for it, which upsets the perfection a wee bit. After an ill-advised drunken one-night-stand, he awakes to find horns sprouting from his forehead. As the horns begin to have odd and disturbing effects on people, Ig goes on the run to find Merrin’s real killer, and get rid of the horns for good.
Based on the 2010 bestseller by Joe Hill (son of Stephen King, for horror buffs), Horns is certainly an original idea, adding one more to the plethora of interesting and creative films coming out in 2014. However, as we learned with the The Purge, a good idea is useless if you can’t execute it properly. Thankfully Horns is clearly in capable hands, as it turns out remarkably well.
The first thing you’ll notice about Horns is Radcliffe himself; he’s great in this role. I can’t see another person in this part. He manages to pull off a decently convincing accent, but his charisma and charm has developed considerably since his early Potter days, where his acting resembled an alien approximation of a child actor carved out of wood. Not only is he fun to watch, he can be pretty damn threatening too. He hasn’t played an anti-hero before, and while Ig is certainly sympathetic, he can have some pretty brutal moments.
I suppose the biggest compliment I can give Radcliffe’s performance is that I didn’t see Daniel Radcliffe on my screen, or even Harry Potter with an accent; I saw Ig Perrish. The supporting cast all do a fantastic job, including the hilarious sexually repressed cop and the disturbing drugged up, ska-playing brother of Ig, Terry, who provides probably one of the film’s best scenes.
Visually Horns is very nice to look at, with Alexandre Aja pulling out his best film to date, at least in terms of direction. The CGI is unconvincing, yes, but it has enough style and is shot with enough finesse that it isn’t distracting. What is distracting, however, is the bizarre and jarring tonal shifts the film goes through.
Horns isn’t quite a horror-comedy, and it isn’t quite a fantasy-thriller. It’s just sort of both, and ends up meandering around from scene to scene that often feel like they’re out of different films. They’re good scenes, but the way they’re put together is sometimes completely bewildering. We’ll go from one scene that’s laugh out loud funny, to another that’s disturbing as all hell, then to another scene that’s disturbing but possible trying to be funny, and then back to straight up comedy, and then to dramatic and serious. It pulls you out of the film somewhat, which is a shame because for the most part the story is very gripping and has a great twist that I never saw coming.
The only other main issue with the script is the dialogue, in that it can be less than stellar. The very first conversation in the film is cringe-worthy and almost colours your view of the film entirely. Thankfully it picks up soon after, but to open the film with such an abysmal exchange is baffling. You have to wonder who saw that draft and thought, yep, that’ll do it. That sets the tone.
However, despite these trepidations, Horns is actually a fun film that deserves your time if you’re a fan of original and creative genre flicks. If you’re expecting a horror film you’ll be sorely disappointed, because despite its advertising campaign and Halloween release date, it is most definitely not a horror film. Nor is it a religious satire, which it easily could have been.