While filmmaker Alexandre Aja is typically known for ridiculously gory horror movies like Piranha 3D and High Tension, his latest film, Horns, is a sinful departure into Young Adult territory that maintains a hard-R bite. Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Aja’s adaptation of Joe Hill’s original novel follows a boy who sprouts horns that force people to reveal their darkest thoughts and secrets, a helpful tool that Radcliffe takes advantage of while hunting his ex-girlfriend’s killer.
It’s a darkly comedic journey into tragic waters, one that’s benefitted by Aja’s direction when psychedelic hallucinations and explosive visual attacks are called upon. I caught the film at Fantastic Fest this past week and enjoyed the hell out of it, where I also had the distinct honor of talking with Alexandre Aja, who was in attendance.
Heading into one of The HighBall’s brand new karaoke rooms, I had the chance to pick Aja’s brain about all things Horns. While fighting the temptation of singing any number of karaoke favorites, I asked Alexandre just what made Joe Hill’s novel so perfect for an adaptation. We also hit upon the director’s recent trend of adapting novels cinematically, if Daniel Radcliffe was always going to be Aja’s Ig Perrish, and if Space Adventure Cobra is still in the cards.
Enjoy the interview!
WGTC: So what was it about Joe Hill’s writing that made you want to adapt Horns?
Alexandre Aja: I remember the moment when I was reading the book for the first time, and I felt that what I was reading was something I would have written myself, if I had the talent to write a novel. [Laughs] It was that personal in so many aspects. The balance between the dark sense of humor, universes, horror and drama – the supernatural, the crime thriller. All that mixed together was like everything I’m trying to do in my movies in different ways, like a beautiful, biblical fable. It was interesting to address. I guess I’m not the only one because the book became a cult novel for a lot of people, but I knew I had the opportunity to make this movie and try to bring to audiences the same excitement, joy and sadness that I had reading the book.
WGTC: I definitely feel like Horns has the underlying vibe of a Young Adult movie – was that something you were conscious of while bringing the story to screen?
Alexandre Aja: The book is not YA at all, but when translating into pictures with actors, you realize it. When I was reading the book, I was projecting myself into it and picturing Ig as a man in his 30s, but that’s absolutely not the case. These characters represent that young age when you start life and commit to the girl you love. All that is at the beginning, and it’s kind of like a YA novel hidden underneath a Fight Club type movie. [Laughs] I think that was really interesting. Then we started adapting the book, taking the last few years to make sure everything I love about the novel makes it on screen, but it became – and I don’t know exactly how – but it became a very irreverent and aging YA movie. It wasn’t on purpose, but somehow I feel like people who grew up reading Harry Potter are ready for R-rated material now, and Horns is the bridge for them that skips a few stops – brings them to the next level.