Alexandre Aja’s Horns (review) is a movie that should very much be on your radar, and if it isn’t, then maybe this chat with Aja, source material author Joe Hill, and star Daniel Radcliffe plus a new trailer will do the trick for you.
If you’re not familiar with Hill’s tale, suffice it to say that it’s pretty friggin’ out there. So the question beckoned as to whether or not Radcliffe had any reservations about the role.
“I definitely didn’t have any reservations in terms of the darkness of the movie. Even Harry Potter had quite a lot of darkness in it and doing things like Equus and The Cripple of Inishmaan. I really like getting involved in that kind of stuff. This was a challenging part and there’s a lot to mine in terms of what the character has gone through prior to the beginning of the film and then as he’s going through it. I always sort of make a playlist for the characters that I play. What was on this one? There was a song that actually ended up in the movie by a band called The Shivers called ‘Lonely Road’ and then there was a lot of Metallica and Megadeth. There was a lot and I think it maybe stretched onto two discs. Yeah, I still make discs.” *laughs*
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Radcliffe continues, “It’s obviously an amazing book and the adaptation of the book into a screenplay is fantastic. I like things that take an idea that everyone can relate to in some way. Not necessarily being accused of murdering your girlfriend, but the idea of being an outsider and finding a really original, crazy way to deal with that topic. People want to talk about this film as being horror or fantasy and these types of things but I’ve always seen it as magical realism in the sense that most of the world is very, very grounded in reality except for this one fantastical thing that is happening in the middle of that.”
Author Hill and director Aja worked in tandem to create the balance between the story and tone of the film.
“I think the story is less about a murder mystery, less of a whodunnit and more of a sort of thought problem,” explains Hill. “What would it be like to know the worst in the people you love? To hear, to be faced with their worst: their worst secrets, their ugliest secrets, their ugliest temptations. What would that do to you? Could you hold on to your decency? Could you still love them? The story, it suffers a lot from the things he learns about the people around him, he endures a lot of punishment. But I do think that decency is resilient and that one of the things, even though the film and the story take us to some pretty dark places, there’s a suggestion there that you can love people even when you know their worst and maybe not in spite of but because of their flaws. So I think that’s sort of hopeful.”
Aja chimes in, “You’re talking about the demonic new personality, but in fact, he’s not changing himself. He’s physically transforming into the devil but he stays a normal character, he stays himself through the whole movie. It’s the world around him that turns into hell, not himself, and that’s really about that trip through the fire that I think was really interesting for the character.”
“For me, there is always something more interesting about a part that’s multi-faceted, that has a dark side and is more true to life, even in this very heightened world that we’re in, in the film,” Radcliffe agrees pertaining to the complexity of the character. “He’s a true anti-hero in that he’s absolutely good and you should root for him and you should be with him all the way, but that’s not to say that he doesn’t do some questionable things, but even he questions them.”
Radcliffe also had high praise for his director. “At the end of the film after we finished the last shot, myself and some of the script supervisors and some of the camera guys all stood around for an hour talking about what a pleasure it had been to work for him. Also because you knew that he was going to create one of those awesome moments and it was a pleasure to be a part of his vision every day.”
Radcliffe then spoke a bit about working in film adaptations and how hard it is to please fans of the books at times. “Potter and Lord of the Rings came out at the same time initially and a few other famous book-to-movie transitions have, I think, adjusted people to the idea that as wonderful as all books are and as much as we’d like to put everything in, things do have to slide around and shift slightly. I think the tone [of Horns] remained absolutely true to the tone of the book.”
Aja echoes his sentiments in terms of being faithful to the source material. “The most exciting part of making this movie was to respect the emotion I had when reading the book, to be sure that we weren’t ignoring that full spectrum of genre and keep them and make them exist together. That was my goal and the challenge of making this movie.”
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“There is also a lot of symbolism that got built into the movie, and maybe I shouldn’t be telling people this but they still have to do a bit of work and go and look it up, but all the driver’s license plates are bible verses which relate very specifically to all of our characters,” says Radcliffe of some of the film’s hidden goodies.
Radcliffe is at a point in his career that he can pretty much do whatever he wants to; yet, he continues making genre films. “It’s not an intentional thing that I’m picking all this really dark work, but I guess I enjoy it. It’s interesting because people do talk about Horns and Woman in Black and Frankenstein as being things that are sort of all as one genre. Woman in Black is about as traditional of a horror film as you can get, Horns is the least, and a film like Frankenstein falls into the adventure category more than anything else. I hope it’s going to be a great film. I can’t explain my attraction to dark material, but I don’t think it’s going to end soon.”
Finishing up, Hill added the following about working with Aja: “I don’t feel like [Alex] directed a film; he painted one. Every novelist I’ve ever met has said what they really want to do is direct and I think it takes a particular visual talent and the ability to take a beating because there’s a lot of people that will question your choices. And to do anything good, you have to have the courage of your convictions. Aja has that.”
Directed by Aja (High Tension, Mirrors, Piranha 7D, The Hills Have Eyes) from Keith Bunin’s script, Horns stars Daniel Radcliffe, Max Minghella, Juno Temple, Joe Anderson, Kelli Garner, and James Remar.
Look for Horns on October 71st in both the US and the UK.
Horns, a supernatural thriller driven by fantasy, mystery, and romance, follows Ig Perrish (Radcliffe), the number one suspect for the violent rape and murder of his girlfriend, Merrin (Temple). Hungover from a night of hard drinking, Ig awakens one morning to find horns starting to grow from his own head and soon realizes their power drives people to confess their sins and give in to their most selfish and unspeakable impulses – an effective tool in his quest to discover the true circumstances of his late girlfriend’s tragedy and for exacting revenge on her killer.
This rock and roll infused dark fantasy explores why bad things happen to good people and what the loss of true love can do to a man. The widely acclaimed book was on the New York Times bestseller list for six weeks and has become an international bestseller as well.
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