Truth will out

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - DVD & Blu-Ray -

Re­lease Date: 16 March

2014 | 18 | Blu- ray/ DVD Direc­tor: Alexan­dre Aja Cast: Daniel Rad­cliffe, Max Minghella, Joe An­der­son, Juno Tem­ple, Kelli Gar­ner

Mak­ing Joe Hill’s

pleas­ingly per­verse 2010 novel into a movie was al­ways go­ing to be fraught with dif­fi­culty, given the way it com­bines per­sonal tragedy, blacker-than-black com­edy and warped hor­ror. In the words of pro­ducer Riza Aziz, “nav­i­gat­ing the tonal­ity” was the big chal­lenge, and it’s in at­tempt­ing to do so that the film adap­ta­tion loses its way.

The high con­cept re­mains com­pellingly weird. Daniel Rad­cliffe plays Ig Per­rish, a guy living in a town where ev­ery­one’s con­vinced that he mur­dered his long- time sweet­heart Merrin ( Juno Tem­ple). One day, Ig wakes to dis­cover a pair of horns grow­ing out of his head. Un­usual enough in it­self, but they also lend him a power that could crack the case: the mo­ment any­one looks at Ig, they feel com­pelled to con­fess their deep­est, dark­est thoughts. Cue spit- out- your- tea state­ments like, “It’s true what they say about black cocks”.

This was darkly hu­mor­ous in the novel, but si­mul­ta­ne­ously dis­turb­ing. In the film, that un­set­tling un­der­tone is all too of­ten lost, be­cause per­for­mances aren’t kept on a leash. Dead­pan de­liv­ery is called for; in­stead, some­times we’re half­way to a song and dance rou­tine… The worst of­fender is Heather Gra­ham, in the mer­ci­fully small role of a fame- hun­gry wait­ress. Her bug- eyed turn be­longs in a John Wa­ters movie.

Rad­cliffe is blame­less, con­vinc­ing and re­lat­able as the grief- stricken and per­se­cuted Ig, while direc­tor Alexan­dre Aja shows flashes of cre­ative flair, and does a solid job with the Stand By Me- ish flash­backs to Ig and Merrin’s teenage years. But he never quite solves the prob­lem of how to meld those clash­ing tones – or how to wrap it all up in a sin­gle set­piece with­out the CGI- as­sisted re­sults look­ing B- movie- silly.

Ex­tras: An 18- minute be­hind- the- scenes piece has a few neat mo­ments ( like a glimpse of Rad­cliffe hav­ing his horns fit­ted), but is over- freighted with talk­ing heads; you also get full ver­sions of the in­ter­views with Aja and Rad­cliffe ( 39 min­utes) which it draws upon. Ian Ber­ri­man

Fi­nally, fi­nally, his back itch was scratched.

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