Daniel Radcliffe and Juno Temple on the ‘Old Testament justice’ of ‘Horns’

What would you do if you had the power to hear someone's else's deepest, darkest secrets?  What would you do if you could bend others to your will?

“Horns,” the new movie by director Alexandre Aja, finds Daniel Radcliffe playing Ig, a man with just those abilities.  The movie opens with Ig going through life as a suspect in the murder of his girlfriend, Merrin (Juno Temple).  As a reaction to everyone's accusations and some too-long nights drinking, Ig wakes up one morning having grown devil horns and finds himself with the ability to not only know the thoughts of others, but also to bend others to his will.

As enticing as that initially may sound, it proves to not be a uniformly positive experience.  Ig cannot turn his abilities on and off, and often finds out things he does not want to know.

After working on the movie and getting to see how having such abilities might play out, neither Temple nor Radcliffe would like to have those powers.  There is too much bad that would go with the good.

Of the ability to know someone's inner thoughts, Radcliffe said, “Once in a while that's handy, but the rest of the time, that's horrible.”  He sees it as akin to, “Being able to feel someone's pain and that sounds terrible.”  Temple completely agreed with the sentiment.

There is also a question with such powers of how people would use them.  Individuals in our world regularly prove themselves to be capable of both great good and terrible evil, but would having preternatural abilities along the lines of Ig cause someone to veer more in one way or the other?  If there is truth in it, the phrase “power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” would suggest that people with Ig's abilities would tend to be bend more towards the evil side of things.

Temple and Radcliffe don't necessarily subscribe to that idea.  When asked if individuals would use the powers for good or evil, Temple thought it could very easily go either way.  She said, “I really think there is a devil and an angel sitting on everyone's shoulder.  I totally believe in that.  I believe you dawdle in both.”

Devils and angels, in fact, do play a part in “Horns.”  There are biblical references scattered throughout the movie.  They exist on everything from license plates to the names of stores.  It would, however, be a mistake to read anything into that. 

“We're using biblical imagery to tell a story about humans,” Radcliffe explained.  “It's not a comment” on the Bible itself.  That being said, the “Harry Potter” actor also pointed out that there was a way to read it as an Old Testament sort of tale and that, “there's some Old Testament justice being dealt out in this film.”

Directed by Aja and based on the book by Joe Hill, “Horns” is out in theaters today.  The movie also stars Heather Graham, Kelli Garner, James Remar, Max Minghella, and David Morse.