Daniel Radcliffe talks with Snakes – again

One of my favorite films of Fantastic Fest, HORNS, starring Daniel Radcliffe as man accused of murdering his girlfriend, finally gets its theatrical release this weekend. It has strangely been available on VOD for the last two weeks or so – but nothing about this film is traditional so I’ll give that a pass. Here in Austin it will be playing at the Alamo Village but wherever you are, this is certainly a film worth seeing, if not this weekend as what I think is the perfect Halloween date movie, then cuddled up on the couch where you can truly value just how far young Harry has come. Based on Joe Hill’s fantasy novel, the film comes to screen under the surprising hand of Alexandre Aja, known for horror films such as Haute Tension (High Tension) and The Hills Have Eyes, who brings and fantastic amount of humor and sweetness to a pretty macabre-dwelling story, that sort of works as a Stand By Me grows up morality tale. I had a chance to speak with Aja at Fantastic Fest, and I didn’t really want to edit out a word of what he said, so here’s in the interview.

This film seems really dfferent than your previous work, can you maybe explain how it’s not? How do you see it connected to your previous work?

“When I decide to make a movie, I always go back to me being an audience member, and I always think about what movie I would like to see. And that’s kind of like true that way of reading material and when I read the book first, I knew it was like an obvious thing. And one of the resons is that the book felt like – I almost felt like I could have been the one to write the book, because it was all the element that I love so much in filmmaking. Elements that you can find through my previous movie as well, the dark humor. … There are moments in High Tension, moments in The Hills Have Eyes where you can see that dark humor. So that element and the treatment of the crime mysteries was also something you can see through my other work. And then the kind of more love story romantic thing, even in a movie like Maniac (Aja produced in 2012 with Elijah Wood in the lead role), you can still see a little bit of this romantic vibe. Or my first film Furia that basically no one has seen. I felt like this book when I was reading it was really just a digest everything I loved the most in stories. And the overall fable was so perfect, about first love, and revenge and the people around you, and so yeah, I see it as a perfect contuity, but in the same time for a lot of people it might feel like a very different movie. The good sign is like people here react so well to the movie, it stands out, and that proves that there is something else that’s still working on that core audience.”

Did you have to convince some people along the way that you were going to approach this differently and it wasn’t going to end up with like Daniel Radcliffe goring people with his horns?

“It was definitely a long – not only to convince, but the fact that a movie like this, developed in a classical system, would have died in development. Basically they would have tried to get rid of the dark humor or get rid of the love story. Making just a just a crime mystery. I had the chance to find producers and to find a financier that were rally believing in the material, share the same kind of love and passion for the book, and who also were kinda crazy enough to make this movie without caring about all the marketing – like you should never do like a multi-genre movie. Kind of stupid rules.”

Yeah, and I love that about the film. It’s all over the place. It’s the film that most surprised me through the whole festival.

“And the people that produced and finance and trust us to let us make the movie with the creative freedom that you saw were also the people doing like The Wolf of Wall Street at the same time, which is strangely enough very out of the box as well, multi-genre. I want to pay tribute to their courage because it’s not obvious in the industry right now to make such movies.”

What was it about the book that you wanted to most make sure that you got right?

“I think the dark humor. The dark humor was the one that got me so excited that I knew that I wanted to keep that on screen. It was really important for me.”

Were there any sequences in the book were you were like ‘oh this is not going to work in the movie, so I’m going to make my peace with that right now?’

“Two things in the book. One thing was like you know very early on who killed Marin, and I thought it was a mistake, not in the book, but in the adaptation, to try to not preserve the mystery about – because there was something very similar to Twin Peaks and who killed Laura Palmer, and I wanted to keep that mystery element so that was one of the directions that wee took in the adaptation. … The other element in the book that was very different is that the book is taking place a year after she was killed, so its like a really different approach. I’m really happy and overall I’m happy that Joe Hill is so supportive of the movie, loved the movie so much.”

So the Film debuted at Toronto International Film Festival last year, and so it’s been a year. People are always interested in understanding that process in which you have this huge debut and then you sell the Film, and now it’s a year later it’s finally coming out.

“What happened during this year? We all went on vacation in the Bahamas for a year. No, what happened is for me it was the first time I was making a movie outside of the studio system and more indpendent way, where you’re making the movie and then you are presenting the movie at some kind of big festival, and then you try to sell it to US distribution. And so it’s a different process. And so we did that, and presented at TIFF last year – the movie was not completely finished, we were like literally mixing the night of the presentation – and so we presented that first version, and we did sell the movie to Dimension Radius. It was like the biggest sell, they loved the movie. They loved the movie so much that they wnted to try a few things with the movie, so that’s always interesting. Which you know, Im not against, you know, if we can make the movie better, why not? SO we spend a few months trying different things and at the end of the day, they realized and we realized that we had like a pretty good shape. So we went back to what we had at TIFF, so in fact the movie that you saw yesterday, minus the voice over, is exactly the version that was presented at TIFF.”

So the voiceover was added?

“The voice over, part of it was recorded before TIFF, but I decided to not use them at the time, and then we decided to make it clearer for people”

It’s interesting because the voice over at the start of the film is so strong, and I was assuming that that’s pretty much lifted book, or it wouldn’t have that voice.

“In fact no, it’s something that we created right in the post-production process before TIFF. The other ones we record them after but the introducing voice over was something we work out before the TIFF presentation.”

“it’s a Halloween date movie, its also like the perfect Halloween movie as its like the best costume that you can get. It’s a bout the devil, its about first love, it’s about revenge. It’s not like gory or scary. I think you know sometimes movies that tyr to open on Halloween are too dark and I think people just want to have a great feeling and a great experience during the Halloween weekend. If they have to go to a movie, I think this is the best one to go to see because it’s not like the usual Halloween gory pic.”

Horns opens nationwide theatrically today and is also available on VOD.


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