We’re big fans of director Alexandre Aja at Downright Creepy. Since his attention-grabbing genre debut with High Tension in 2003, he’s given us slick, ultra-violent movies like The Hills Have Eyes (2006), Mirrors (2008) and Piranha 3D (2010). Now he’s bringing to life the novel Horns by Joe Hill, starring Daniel Radcliffe. In a press conference Friday morning at Comic-Con, Aja and Hill spoke about the movie.

Hill said he’s credited as an Executive Producer on Horns, but only because it fits on the screen better than Executive Underfoot. When he visited the set, he tried to stay out of the way. He did provide “comments” following script revisions, but seemed to be genuine in his desire to let someone else run with his story. He said he’s more a reader than a writer, anyway; getting more of a thrill over what he reads by other people than by anything he writes himself.

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He further said he wrote his book and he’s done with it. He’s interested to see someone else’s interpretation. According to Hill, he’s seen the movie several times and likes it better than the book! (Aja spoke a bit about adaptations of novels, saying that if you don’t do something new with the material, it can sometimes feel flat on screen.)

I haven’t seen Horns yet; however, another reporter pointed out the visible influence of David Lynch and Twin Peaks. Aja said he was glad it was noticed, because it was intentional. Hill then spoke elaborately about Twin Peaks and how his family would watch it at home with coffee and donuts. He said it was different because the characters, while obsessed with a mystery they’re trying to solve, still stop to enjoy “a damn good cup of coffee”. He said movies without that dimension are not interesting to him.

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I asked Hill if he envisions a particular actor while he’s writing his characters and what he thought of the casting of Daniel Radcliffe. He didn’t really answer the first part, but proceeded to praise Radcliffe, after which Aja equalled his enthusiasm. He said he perfectly demonstrated the complex personality of Ig Perrish, and, after he was hired, worked unexpectedly hard on his performance.

Hill added that with the childhood Radcliffe experienced, his life at this point could have taken a very different turn. But he has instead chosen to work hard and attempt many different types of roles with great success. The two had conversations on the set and Hill found Radcliffe to be solidly grounded.

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Oddly, we didn’t talk much about how scary or gory the movie version of Horns may be. Instead, the focus was on the beauty of it. Hill described a scene during which the sun was setting between the crook of a tree. He was amazed at the light this cast for the shot and wondered if Aja planned it or if it was accidental. After a tease, Aja said it was definitely planned.

From how they made it sound, Horns may be a bit of a departure for Aja, while still working within the zone that has terrified us for 12 years. I for one am very eager to see how it turned out.