Alexandre Aja and Joe Hill sat down with Shock Till You Drop at Comic-Con last weekend to talk Horns. Based on Hill’s novel, the movie opens in theaters October 31st and I’ll tell you now, if you’re a fan of the source material, you will likely enjoy this weird, heartfelt film. (Check out the trailer here.)
The film follows Ig Perrish (Daniel Radcliffe), the number one suspect for the violent rape and murder of his girlfriend, Merrin (Juno Temple). Hungover from a night of hard drinking, Ig awakens one morning to find horns starting to grow from his own head and soon realizes their power drives people to confess their sins and give in to their most selfish and unspeakable impulses – an effective tool in his quest to discover the true circumstances of his late girlfriend’s tragedy and for exacting revenge on her killer.
In our discussion, we discussion, we touch on how the film has changed since its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival last year, the nature of adaptations, the film’s “secret weapon” and its cast. Here are the highlights; expect more in-depth interviews as we get closer to the film’s release.
On the love for the book
Alexandre Aja: I fell in love with it, as did a lot of people. I had that feeling at the beginning that I had a vision of how to make it. There’s a way of doing an adaptation, like take a piece of the story or character and change it a little bit. Here, it’s all there. In a perfect world, I would have made a six-hour movie, but we had to find the core of the story and be truthful to the book in two hours. Two have Joe Hill’s blessing is great.
The David Lynchian vibe of Horns
Joe Hill: Horns is a little like that. Like Blue Velvet period David Lynch, but David Lynch that makes sense. There’s a scene in this movie that makes all of my nerve endings prickle and that’s the diner scene [with Merrin and Ig]. That’s the kind of thing I hoped the film would have, but that you secretly don’t believe the film would get.
On adaptations and changes
Hill: I just saw the latest cut. I saw it Toronto – a version we saw there. The most recent version I saw, all of the colors pop and so do the emotions. It was great in Toronto, but the theatrical version that’s coming out runs like a muscle car with a new coat of paint. It’s real lean and real mean and Radcliffe is great. My attitude about adaptations is the money is great and there’s not a reason to get too emotionally attached until they’re actually filming something.
The film’s “secret weapon”
Hill: I think the film’s secret weapon is Max Minghella. He comes across in his performance a kind of nutty humor and sexual malice that brings to mind early Jack Nicholson.
On being the first director to make a feature film adaptation of Joe Hill’s material
Aja: I wish I was ahead of the curve on two things, on this, to be the first to adapt this talent writer’s works for the big screen. And in regards to Daniel, I think this movie is the first real movie post-Harry Potter which will change how people see him. What he brought to the movie is amazing. I’d cast him in anything. He has this skill, anger and suspense – such a wide range of things. Horns, I think, is his full display of talents.
On changes that were made to the film post-TIFF premiere
Aja: It’s tighter and shorter. We added some voiceover. That’s new. I have mixed feelings on voiceover, but sometimes you need a little bit more and it works here.
On casting Juno Temple
Aja: I met her first for the role of “Glenna.” And I saw Juno and she was sparkly – not to sound too cheesy – she was so charming. The way she talked, moved and the way she is. She was exactly the way Merrin is described in the book. Ig commits to her in an absolute way and it felt natural to cast her. Every scene she’s in, she’s mesmerizing.