Alexandre Aja has made a name for himself as a purveyor of bruising horror films, from the psycho twists of High Tension to the gonzo gore of Piranha 3D. In his upcoming film Horns, an adaptation of the novel by Joe Hill (the nom de plume of Joe King, son of Stephen), Aja grapples with something even more fiendishly evil than dissociative serial killers and prehistoric carnivorous fishies: the Devil himself.
Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Horns is about a young man who suddenly grows the titular protrusions after he’s accused of murdering his girlfriend. When people begin to treat him like Satan incarnate and confess all their deepest, darkest secrets, he uses his newfound powers of persuasion to find the real killer.
Aja, Hill, and Radcliffe were all on hand at a Comic-Con press conference to chat about the film’s unusually twisted premise Here’s everything you need to know about Horns:
Pointing in Many Directions
Though Horns embraces many tropes of horror and fantasy films, the trio tried to avoid using genre labels to describe the experience. Hill sees the story as less of a traditional murder mystery and more of a thought experiment, using the horns as a device to explore what it means to know people at their ugliest and then try to treat them with decency, respect, and love.
The Potter Conspiracy
The film’s fantasy trappings are nothing new for Radcliffe, who said he enjoys the opportunity to tell stories where “anything can happen.” But the filmmakers pointed out that any references to the actor’s previous fantasy franchise are entirely coincidental. So try not to read too much into the yellow-and-red wardrobe or the many, many snakes…
Embrace the Darkness, Ride the Lightning
Radcliffe referred to his character as an “antihero,” underscoring the fact that Horns often showcases the worst possible extremes of human behavior. Per his tradition, Radcliffe created a playlist to get him into the appropriate mindset during filming. His go-to tunes? Lots of Metallica, Megadeth, and The Shivers.
The Devil is in the Details
Apart from the obvious physical transformation of Radcliffe’s character, the film makes many allusions to the devil in folklore and popular culture. Some are quite overt (hello, pitchfork) but others require a trained eye, and perhaps a background in religious scholarship: each of the license plates visible in the movie reference Bible verses germane to the hero’s predicament.
The Mind of Joe Hill
Hill has not only inherited his father’s looks, but also his fondness for the macabre. After wistfully describing the sensation of being surrounded by “hundreds of moths,” he then expressed an enthusiastic desire to climb into the large gelatinous prop egg from Alien featured on the convention floor. But the author also flashed a giddy, offbeat charm in reminding the audience that every successful beat in a story is driven by “a little explosion of awesome,” belying an imagination where those explosions often take dark and disturbing form.
Horns opens in wide release on October 31, 2014.
Watch the new Horns trailer: