Daniel Radcliffe plays a radio DJ wrongly accused of his girlfriend’s violent killing in a macabre fantasy thriller based on the book by Stephen King’s son Joe Hill. The writer has called the story a “tragi-comic-horredy” which doesn’t even come close to describing the mash-up mayhem packed into two head-spinning hours of first-love drama, twisted black comedy and violent revenge.
Having become a social pariah in his small American hometown, Ig awakes on the anniversary of Merrin’s (Juno Temple) death to find horns growing from his head. Director Alexandre Aja (Piranha 3D) initially plays this for laughs as Ig’s demonic presence compels people to confess their sins and tell him what they really think – “She was my favourite thing about you!” Ig is shocked to learn. He uses his new powers to hunt Merrin’s killer as Radcliffe takes an entertaining and trippy step out of Harry Potter’s shadow. The actor told NME Aja’s film is Fight Club mixed with Black Swan. “It’s like nothing else I’ve ever done,” says the former boy wizard. “There aren’t many films like this out there. It’s very, very dark and, I think, incredibly funny. It was a great chance to play an anti-hero. And while you root for him throughout he does some really horrible things to people.”
The ‘horrible things’ include setting a pack of TV reporters against each other in a death match and making his brother consume a hallucinatory cocktail of drugs to trigger a revealing flashback. But eventually the film loses its way. Trying to juggle childhood reminisce, young adult stylings, fantasy gore and Twin Peaks-esque black humour is a tall order. But Aja keeps the genre plates spinning gamely and it’s great to see Radcliffe revelling in the chaos, excise Potter once for all and literally grow a pair.