“If you’ve never had a 6-foot python around you, I recommend the experience,” Daniel Radcliffe said, summing up his work on a key scene in Horns, based on the bestselling 2010 novel by Locke & Key writer Joe Hill.
Director Alexandre Aja’s dark fantasy thriller centers on Ig (Radcliffe), a troubled young man struggling to solve his girlfriend’s murder when local authorities label him as the prime suspect. Making matters worse, Ig wakes up to discover he’s sprouted devilish horns that endow heim with abilities he’ll need to clear his name and find the real killer.
Hill, Radcliffe and Aja were on hand Friday at Comic-Con International in San Diego to premiere the film’s first official trailer, which kicked off a panel that was equal parts frightening and hilarious.
The trailer begins with a very tranquil, very Magic Hour-y scene between Ig and his loving girlfriend Merrin (The Dark Knight Rises’ Juno Temple). “I’m gonna love you for the rest of my life,” Ig says to Merrin, who responds, “Just love me for the rest of mine.”
In the next scene, following a series of flash cuts, we’re at the scene of Merrin’s murder as Ig is handcuffed by police. “If I did that to her, I’m a monster!” Ig screams before being taken away. He wakes up the next day to find horns pushing their way out of his head, and the haggard population of his small town fingering him for a crime he didn’t commit.
From there, the trailer crosscuts between lots of fire, snakes and pitchforks – culminating in Ig realizing the horns give him the ability to not only hear a person’s inner most truths, but to also bend them to his will.
“People feel compelled to share with him their darkest secrets,” Hill said after the screening. “And they ask him if they can do worse.”
The audience got to see what “worse” looks like in a clip of Ig struggling to evade news reporters demanding an exclusive interview. “If you give me the exclusive,” the female reporter says, “I can get out of local news!” Ig responds by sarcastically suggesting the reporters battle to the death, and the person left standing gets the interview. Cut to a male reporter slugging the female reporter, which sparks a messy brawl full of cameras getting smashed into faces – all scored to “Personal Jesus.”
As the fight continues, Ig stalks off to a bar across the street. There, he demands the barflies tell him everything they know about who killed Merrin. What he gets instead is a bartender confessing how much he wants to burn down his bar for the insurance money – which is exactly what he does, but not until Ig receives key information regarding the night Merrin died.
The footage screened demonstrated the film is quick with the tonal shifts – black humor one minute, graphic horror the next – all in service of what Hill hopes is a movie that packs as much emotional weight as it does thrills.
“The impetus for the book – and what underlines the film – is the question, ‘What if you could only see all the wrong, all the hate, in the people you love?’” Hill said, adding that the answer Ig finds makes the film all the more compelling.
Audiences can see the answer to that question when Horns arrives in theaters on Halloween.