Take a Shot: for each flashback
Take a Drink: during each shocking moment
Take a Shot: during each vulgar statement
Take a Drink: whenever a character does
Take a Shot: whenever a character does drugs
Take a Drink: during the batshit crazy hallucination
By: Matt Conway (Two Beers) –
Recently I discussed how Elijah Wood has surprisingly been able to make a career despite many post-Lord of the Rings actors failing to do so. Making a career after a big franchise is hard for normal actors, but even harder when you are a child actor. Aside from a few exceptions, a lot of children actors have failed to pave their own career after starring in a major franchise. The rare exception seems to be the young stars of Harry Potter, well, at least two of them.
Both Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe have surprisingly been able to keep their careers alive with a lot of great roles. Watson especially has been involved in a lot of big productions, recently staring in Noah. Radcliffe on the other hand has done some smaller films, like What If and Kill Your Darlings. In both films, Radcliffe displayed a great deal of talent as both a comedic and dramatic actor. His latest project, Horns, while overall being received with a mixed reaction, is another great turn for him, in a film that I surprisingly kind of loved.
Horns follows Ig Perrish, who is trying to clear his name after being accused of murdering his ex-girlfriend. Suddenly though, the supernatural begins to effect Ig in ways he could not imagine.
Horns really is a project that gives Radcliffe an opportunity to shine, and he is certainly the standout here. For the first time ever, Daniel Radcliffe actually does an American accent, and does so very well, so well you can hardly tell by his voice it’s him. Not only is his vocal change impressive, but Radcliffe really is able to encompass a lot in his performance. He is able to be darkly funny at points, show off his dramatic chops, and also really savor the role of being this bad figure. It’s a great performance, and more proof of him ridding himself of the Harry Potter title.
Surrounding Radcliffe is a really solid supporting cast that do a good job with their respective roles. Juno Temple continues to be typed-cast as a love interest, but here she gets a little pathos to work with and delivers in her smaller scenes. Then there is the highly underrated Joe Anderson, who really gets to shine as Ig’s drugged-up brother. One scene in particular where he hallucinates was played perfectly by Anderson, providing laughs while being pretty creepy. Other supporting players like Heather Graham and Max Minghella also do a good job in their respective roles.
Doing a nice job in the director’s chair is Alexandre Aja, who has become one of the premium directors of genre films. From the underrated The Hills Have Eyes remake to the fun Piranha 3D, Aja has shown he can do a genre film quite well, and continue to does so here. Despite working with a limited budget, Aja creates quite a few impressive visuals mainly off of stylish movements with the camera. All of the effects in general look quite great, especially considering how cheap the budget is. Aja also does a great job pacing the film, as its nearly two hour running time just flies by.
What Aja does an even more impressive job doing is managing the tone. Horns deals with a lot of different ones, from quite comedic moments, to elements of horror, and even some more dramatic moments. This is a lot to digest in one film, yet Aja manages the tone perfectly, with the film naturally following differently toned moments without being disjointed. Just another example of the talent Aja has, and I hope he gets to direct bigger-budgeted films soon.
Also doing a solid job is scribe Keith Bunin, whose adaptation of Joe Hill’s novel is his first major script. Bunin does a great job writing dialogue, with a mixture between some intentionally silly lines along with some dirty jokes that bring quite a few laughs. The idea of everyone telling the truth to Ig once he gains his horns is utilized quite well from a comedy standpoint.
Perhaps the most surprisingly aspect of the film is the emotional core, which really took me off guard. All of these characters are very well-developed in Bunin’s script, which leads a lot of these characters being quite likable. This helps a lot when the film gets to more dramatic moments towards the end, as they flash back to the days before the death of Ig’s girlfriend. One scene in particular was a relatively clever twist, that actually had me tearing up quite a bit.
My one major gripe with Horns is its predictability. While there are a couple nice twists on the way, the general plotline and result is easy to predict from the start of the film. Once I saw one character in particular, it became apparent what they would end up being later down the road. This hurts the overall mystery of the film, as well as the tension over a final face-off towards the end of the third act.
One of my personal biggest surprises of the year, Horns is the primary example of a film that audiences will be split on. For me personally, the film features a great balance of tones to create an overall enjoyable, heartfelt flick. Radcliffe continues to pick more and more interesting roles, and the future is honestly looking pretty bright for him.