The intense thriller from director Alexandre Aja, based on the novel of the same name by Joe Hill, sees the former "Harry Potter" star sprouting horns from his forehead and seeking appropriately devilish justice in the wake of a great personal tragedy. It's a far cry from the bespectacled boy wizard that Radcliffe embodied for most of his childhood and young adult life, and even if "Horns" itself isn't getting rave reviews, Radcliffe's performance sounds like a must-see for fans.
Check out what critics are saying about Radcliffe's work in "Horns":
The Set Up
"One morning, a fellow named Ig Perrish, played with overcaffeinated intensity by Daniel Radcliffe, wakes up to discover that a pair of horns have sprouted around his hairline. Like poor Gregor Samsa in Kafka’s 'The Metamorphosis,' Ig never really understands why this transformation has taken place, but if the causes are mysterious, the effects are truly bizarre.
"People who encounter Ig don’t seem especially bothered by his changed appearance, but they do find themselves compelled to tell him the truth. Specifically, they are eager to confess, without any guilt or shame, their ugly desires and secret sins. He becomes a sponge for all the lust, bigotry and plain meanness in his Washington logging town, and there seems to be a lot to go around.
"Not that Ig is altogether innocent, at least in the eyes of his family, friends and fellow citizens. Before the arrival of the horns, he had been branded as evil, accused of the murder of Merrin Williams (Juno Temple), his girlfriend since childhood and the great love of his life. Her death haunts him, and the narrative momentum of 'Horns' is supplied by his effort to find Merrin’s killer and clear his name." — A.O. Scott, The New York Times
Playing Up Radcliffe
"'Horns' is the sort of horror outing that very much rides on the quality of its lead. We invest in Radcliffe, an actor who can cut a tragic figure in his sleep, from the first frame: we’re supposed to actually care about the characters here instead of viewing them as livestock dopily milling about the knacker’s yard. Stunt casting or not, Radcliffe singlehandedly elevates the entire goddamned picture, so the only question we’re left with is: What kind of film would this be without him?" — Andy Crump, Paste Magazine
The Boy Who Cursed
"[It's] devilish fun to see The Boy Who Lived cut loose as a demon. Yet it can be jarring to hear Radcliffe — in a careful American accent no less — spewing out a litany of f-bombs. Still, he's a good fit for a reluctant demon, his puppy dog eyes flashing from pained to wrathful. And it seems years of practice in the fantasy realm are a help in committing to this unconventional revenge drama." — Kristy Puchko, Cinema Blend
Leaving Hogwarts Behind
"Aja pays sly homage to Radcliffe’s past – Ig can commune with snakes – but Harry Potter is definitely all grown-up here: Radcliffe and Temple’s sex scene, soundtracked by David Bowie’s ‘Heroes’, is saucy stuff. … Radcliffe ends up going to all kinds of dark places, and with impressive conviction. For the risk-loving star, this is merely the latest step on his long march away from Hogwarts." — Matt Mueller, Total Film
The Final Word
"This is Radcliffe's show, though, and it's genuinely fun to watch him in something this weird that is clearly aiming for mature audiences. Not only does he drop a lot of F-bombs, he does some truly heinous things that are very un-Harry Potter. With his scruffy beard and sullen eyes, Radcliffe looks like a man who has lost love only to find sadness and rage, and it's a tragic side to the actor that we've rarely had a chance to see." — Travis Hopson, Examiner
"Horns" is in theaters now.