Daniel Radcliffe stars in this Halloween release, adapted from the novel by Stephen King’s son Joe Hill (Heart-Shaped Box) and directed by Alexandre Aja (The Hills Have Eyes, Piranha 3D). Radcliffe plays Ig Perrish, a guy who’s heartbroken, distraught and vengeful when he learns of his girlfriend Merrin (Juno Temple)’s death and is accused of her murder. In a fit of rage he pees on the spot where she was killed, and then wakes up to find horns growing out of his forehead. The horns emit a devilish force over anyone who sees them, making the person admit their most sinful thoughts. Ig uses his new power to find Merrin’s killer.
It’s an unusual role for Radcliffe, and he performs surprisingly well against his typecast. He carries off the few comedy lines and although he doesn’t completely convince as a bad boy who drinks and smokes, he’s persuasive as a friend to snakes (that’ll be all the parcel-tongue work in Harry Potter), and as a man in love with his childhood sweetheart.
Aside from the unbelievability of the ‘horns’ premise (because we all know that hardly matters in a Halloween movie), the film mainly falters because it’s just not scary. In some ways it’s all too obvious – there’s no scare because there’s no creepiness, or suspense or fear of the unknown – we already know who Ig is going to punish and that he’s not essentially a bad person, so there’s no one left to fear.
At one point *SPOILER* Ig even turns into an angel and then back into a devil, so the moral compass is skewed – he’s punishing bad people, so is he the good guy? When things start to wrap up, there are no clear villans, despite this being a tale of good and evil at face value.
If you’re looking to see a scary movie this Halloween, try the rerelease of Aliens or Invasion of the Body Snatchers or The Woman in Black (2012, also D. Radcliffe).
Horns will be released in cinemas 31st October.