Posted by Joel Copling on November 3, 2014

Certainty of tone can account for a lot, and herein lies the issue with "Horns," director Alexandre Aja and screenwriter Keith Bunin's adaptation of a novel by Joe Hill. For the duration of a scene, we're treated to a serious study of the odd, supernatural powers Ig Perrish (Daniel Radcliffe, strong in a performance that successfully sheds his Wizarding persona for sex scenes, f-words, and a convincing American accent) receives along with a pair of horns that sprout out of his head a few mornings after a terrible crime. Following such a scene (usually an effective one), we're insulted with a random bit of dark comedy (usually ineffective) at odds with what came before.

Ig has been named as the main person of interest in the rape and murder of his longtime girlfriend Merrin Williams (Juno Temple), and even he is uncertain of his innocence. The details surrounding the state of their relationship will be left for you, viewers, to uncover, but needless to say, he has motive. The question is of opportunity, and as he cannot account for his activities during the period of time when she died, guilt is on everyone's minds (though especially on that of Merrin's father Dale, played by David Morse, who insists that he has no question of Ig's guilt). What a perfect time, then, for that pair of horns that pops up on each side of the Ig's temple. It doesn't seem to be visible to those pure of heart, but that describes very few, and they give him strange powers of suggestion that causes everyone to tell him exactly what is on his or her mind.

The whodunit of Merrin's murder is the central hook on which "Horns" rests, but the answer, when we get there, simply isn't very interesting. It certainly doesn't help that it's so predictable, too. Radcliffe might be strong, and Temple does well with her minimal screen time, but appearances by Joe Anderson and Max Minghella as, respectively, Ig's brother and oldest friend are merely serviceable, while Ig's parents (James Remar and a welcome but wasted Kathleen Quinlan) only serve the purpose of showing us the gravest consequence of gaining those pesky horns. Meanwhile, the insanity of the film's disparate tone comes back to haunt the film itself, with a particularly awful final stretch that plays like bad dinner theater, followed by a syrupy denouement it doesn't earn.

Film Information

Daniel Radcliffe (Ig Perrish), Max Minghella (Lee Tourneau), Joe Anderson (Terry Perrish), Juno Temple (Merrin Williams), Kelli Garner (Glenna Shepherd), James Remar (Derrick Perrish), Kathleen Quinlan (Lydia Perrish), David Morse (Dale Williams), Heather Graham (Veronica).

Directed by Alexandre Aja and written by Keith Bunin, based on the novel by Joe Hill.

Rated R (sexual content, graphic nudity, disturbing violence including a sexual assault, language, drug use).

120 minutes.

Released in select cities on October 31, 2014.