Entertaining enough and welcomingly demonic in its grand designs for a ‘moral compass’ right and wrong storytelling arc but it falls to the wayside quick and horrendously by the final act, making you feel like what came before was not as good as you thought it may have been. There’s a healthy dose of twisted humour to be had and the thriller aspect is evident, if only that’s the style they’d stuck with.
Ig (Daniel Radcliffe) truly and madly loves his girlfriend Merrin (Juno Temple), but one night she is raped and murdered and the townspeople treat him as the most likely suspect. In his quest to try and prove his innocence and find the possible killer he develops devilish horns in mirroring of him being treated like the devil by society. It’s soon only Ig and these helpful growths that may lead him to the answer he’s hoping for.
It has to be said that this film succeeds in it’s out there originality and the fun sadist turns in the plot keep you guessing as to who may be linked to Merrin’s demise but little aspects of the script can bug, i.e, brushing asides of plot hole drama and more than this the last segment of the movie. The developing dramatic rise of Ig and his revenge conclusion is so devastatingly awful that it’s laugh out loud funny. The final act should be clever or engaging but it becomes so ridden with outlandish CGI and elevated Satanic madness that it kind of ruins the rest of the movie. I was hoping for a much better ending, something more ambiguous or less clash heavy would have served the plot in a finer way I think.
The script by Keith Bunin and I’m guessing the black tone of the source material by Joe Hill works a lot in its favour, with the rise of the curled horns making people around Ig spill all their thoughts and inner desires. There is plenty of great humour in the way people act around him and as he starts to relish the odd power he has it’s cool. The newscaster fight is brilliantly set up, the snakes work for a moment of freakish horror in the confines of a car and it’s great to see that Potter still has the knack of Parseltongue in his new face.
I truly liked seeing the thriller mystery aspect of the narrative play out, I think that is this films strongest quality. Trying to work out the unknown killer or sit back and let the unfolding drama of who killed Merrin is the best thing it has going for it. You sort of constantly question whether Ig is innocent or not and other characters come and go as possible targets or red herrings. The pay off, I think is good, not outstanding but it works and its delivered very well.
Daniel Radcliffe is convincing in his maddening descending of Ig. The accent is believable enough, well at least for a non-American watcher/listener. He hits the emotional tracks with gusto and his smirky foray into the darker side of the horny influence never feels forced or pathetic. Juno Temple is a radiant actress with a look and emotional weight that makes you buy into Merrin, even if her character appears quite sparsely. The character background and secret she holds is very powerful and hers and Radcliffe’s scene in the aptly named Eve’s Diner is excellent. Heather Graham is a cool tiny addition to the cast, delivering wide eyed crazy as a waitress and vanity obsessed fame hunter, chucking in lies about Ig to try and get on the news.
It’s a stylish film that hits great strides of darkness, whether in flashes of a scary morphed face of Lucifer or in the trippy journey Ig’s brother heads on under the influence of a whole stack of varying drugs. It’s just a film that stretches longer than it needs to and begins to feel long by the very silly ending.
The large mix of genres doesn’t entirely work in the movies favour and the ending seems to make the story feel like it’s at a loss of substantial ideas. Apart from that the acting is fun, the black horror comedy lands and the visuals work more than they don’t.