Did anybody on the Internet ever peg Daniel Radcliffe, mostly grown up from his days of playing the boy who lived, as a potential horror icon? Admittedly, he’s done more than just pop up in films like The Woman in Black since 2011’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 premiered, raked in enough money to fill several dozen Olympic-sized swimming pools, and happily liberated Radcliffe from his franchising duties; notably, he has Kill Your Darlings, the Beat Generation biopic, coming up later this year and The F Word set for early 2014, and he’s expanded his theatrical resume with How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and The Cripple of Inishmaan, as well. (Never let it be said that the guy’s not multi-faceted.)
But he also has Horns, and among those titles listed, that’s the film that grabs the eye’s attention most adeptly. Horns? He’s starring in an adaptation of Joe Hill’s excellent novel, which is itself being helmed by French goremeister Alexandre Aja? He’s playing a man falsely accused of raping and murdering his girlfriend who, after sprouting the anatomical protrusions of the title and developing a gift for compelling people to confess their sins to him, sets out to find the man responsible for the crime and clear his own name? Seriously?
None of this is to say that his casting in Horns is unwelcome – not in the slightest. Radcliffe’s a dynamic and gifted actor who (like Miley Cyrus) clearly wants to distinguish himself from his initially kid-friendly image; he’s attacked the pursuit commendably and shrewdly (unlike Miley Cyrus), taking roles in all manner of projects – both cinematic and theatrical – to develop his talent as a performer and broaden his skill set. Nothing wrong with that. And if you’re going to hop aboard a mainstream horror production, you could do much worse than Aja, a filmmaker who has yet to crack out a masterpiece yet despite his best efforts (and among those are some pretty solid movies, like The Hills Have Eyes).
Could Horns be what Aja’s been looking for since breaking out with Haute Tension in 2003? Perhaps. It’s hard to tell if he’s accomplished anything great here through this footage alone, but the clip’s purpose is more to show off Radcliffe’s transformation and his chops than anything else. At first blush, I’d say he looks pretty comfortable playing Ig Perrish, our aggrieved anti-hero, so if worst comes to worst, Horns should be able to claim a pretty strong leading performance to its credit. (Early reviews out of TIFF are mixed, but he’s the one thing everybody seems to have found consensus on, so that’s good news!)
Horns doesn’t have a US release date yet – or distribution, which might be the more important of the two – but a smart company should be able to pick this thing up, market it cleverly, and make a mint off of it. Here’s hoping that the film turns out to be more than the commercial success it should be.