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Horns Review: commendable murder mystery builds Radcliffe’s reputation

Film: Horns – commendable murder mystery builds Radcliffe’s reputation

After the mysterious death of his childhood sweetheart, Ig Perrish (Daniel Radcliffe) awakens with devilish Horns. Plagued by a mob town devolving into chaos, who point to him as the killer, Ig drunkenly attempts to unearth what really happened.

Right off the bat it is important to point out Radcliffe’s performance. Whilst it is very difficult but surmountable to look past his American accent, Radcliffe gives his best performance to date. He does overreach in some scenes and appears subdued in others but his improvement is overtly apparent.

Unfortunately, the supporting cast, with the exception of Joe Anderson and James Remar, fail to solidify the feature as a whole. The notion of all characters displaying their repressed emotions is all well and good but it takes real talent to take such repressions and reveal them in a believable way. Instead, for the most part, we get hammy and often over the top deliveries that would best suit a straight comedy rather than this darker comedic take.

As a smaller film with a strict budget it is often found that deficiencies in visual and practical effects dampen integrity. Horns is quite the opposite. Ig’s transformation is done extremely well through a combination of practical effect masks and pure CGI and it never ruins the immersion or the emotional attachment. A lot of credit, therefore, has to be given to the director Alexandre Aja who clearly transferred his penchant for tangible gore effects to Horns.

Whilst the mise-en-scene is not to be quaffed at, the run time and film chronology is. It is very easy, with a murder mystery like this, to loop back to flashbacks and build the story very traditionally. But what results is a simple film where we are told what to believe and what to have doubts about. Perhaps with more time spent on the script we could have been treated to a disjointed story, representative of Ig and his love life, where the audience is challenged and asked: ‘who done it?’

Horns may be 20 minutes too long but I guarantee it will be seen as the start of Radcliffe’s post-Harry Potter career. You forget the glasses, the English accent and the wizardry as Horns develops into a commendable murder mystery with a biblical fantasy mythos.

Score – B-


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