Movie review: "Horns" not Radcliffe's post-Potter best

Brad Keefe, Columbus Alive

It's been fascinating watching the young cast of "Harry Potter" breaking out of those roles. Maybe someday, I won't even have to mention it - or at least that's what they hope.

Emma Watson has had some luck ("The Perks of Being a Wallflower," "The Bling Ring"), and Rupert Grint was last seen as a drug-binging hostel dweller in "Charlie Countryman." The greatest success would probably be Domhnall Gleeson ("Frank," "About Time"), although his Bill Weasley was only in the latter "Potter" movies.

As in the books, the biggest challenge belongs to Harry himself. We all grew up with Daniel Radcliffe, watching him become quite a talented actor in the meantime. He's played beat poet Allen Ginsberg ("Kill Your Darlings") and made a great leap into Hugh Grant-esque rom-com territory ("What If").

But the dark tale of "Horns" is probably his biggest leap yet. It's just too bad the film itself couldn't have been better.

We open on Ig Parrish (Radcliffe) and his girlfriend Merrin (Juno Temple) canoodling in a forest. "Are you horny?" asks Merrin, in a bit of sledgehammer-subtle foreshadowing that's a sign of things to come on multiple levels.

Flash forward a bit, and we learn that Merrin is dead and Ig is the prime suspect in her murder. He's torn with sincere grief, so we're lead to believe this accusation is false.

Then one day, he wakes up with horns - a twist I'm happy to roll with, as long as it works. More strangely, most people in the town can't see Ig's horns, but they suddenly reveal their true, generally awful selves.

"Horns" director Alexandre Aja made one really great horror flick ("High Tension") before working on some so-so remakes ("The Hills Have Eyes"). Working from a novel by Joe Hill (Stephen King's son), he has too many shifts in tone and timeline leaps to deal with.

Radcliffe is too talented to suck, but he's definitely been better. It's still kinda weird watching Harry Potter smoke and guzzle booze, though.

The weird mix of humor as Ig's power leads to some bizarre interactions with townfolk is unsettling, as it plays against another tale that centers too much on violence against women. Harry will keep growing up, but this dark fairy tale is a pass.


2 stars out of 4