By the Book: Horns

Joe Hill is an amazing writer weaving unique tales of the macabre.  Through his various novels and comics, Hill has made a name for himself outside of being Stephen King’s son. It is no surprise that his materials have been made into a movie. The adaption of his novel Horns hit theater for Halloween but lacked the intricacies of the novel.

horns-book-coverThe movie follows the same basic premise. Ig’s girlfriend is killed and he is the prime suspect of her murder. The evidence neither clears nor condemns him but he must deal with a town that persecutes him anyway. One drunk, emotional night, Ig wakes up not remembering what he did the night before but finds horns growing on his head. These horns have the ability to make people tell him their darkness secrets, bringing out the devil inside them. The story follows Ig as he adapts to his new talent and as well as solves the mystery of his girlfriend’s murder.

The movie is enjoyable but never reaches its full potential. Unfortunately, Keith Bunin, the screen writer, decided that lots of changes needed to be made to Hill’s tale. The problems start immediately as the movie opens with gushy platitudes and fuzzy emotions that would never appear in Hill’s work. This continues to be a flaw throughout the film, each change softening the edges too far. And it’s not just the additions that hurt the film. Bunin chooses to cut vital information that leave major plot holes. Spoiler: the movie never explains how the horns came about.

Ironically, as most of the changes of the book are the movie’s down fall, the best scene actually does not take place in the book. horns_ver5_xxlgThe movie is at its height when Ig uses his powers to make paparazzi battle themselves to Marilyn Manson’s cover of “Personal Jesus.” This scene manages to define the theme the movie is trying (but never manages) to portray: revenge, though sweet, causes our downfall.

Daniel Radcliffe is the perfect Ig brining to life the description of the character from the book, and the character is pretty spot on. But most of the other characters are warped. Juno Temple’s Merrin is a travesty of the original character and I know the book version would have a few choice derogative terms for her portrayal. She’s not the only one changed. The brother becomes more melodramatic and the true villain is skewed from the start of the film. The characters needed none of these changes, and it detracts from the tale that Hill was actually trying to tell.

The movie is enjoyable if you haven’t read the book but I would never suggest it to you. Instead I would send you straight to the bookstore or library. Horns is a dish best severed in paper format.

Watch This Not That

Recent Horror Movie

Watch this….

 

Woman in Black

This Daniel Radcliffe vehicle is a superb gothic horror tale with tight writing and great visual effects. Radcliffe is a solicitor trying to clean out a haunted house but is delayed by seeing the famed Woman in Black. The movie does not go for the easy scares, building tension that keeps you on the end of your seat, and Radcliffe proves his abilities as an actor. This is a great throwback to the time before horror movies were slasher films.

…Not That

Silent House

A gimmick movie edited to look like it was filmed in one fluid shot leaves the viewer wanting more. A girl goes back to a child hood house to clean it up to sale when a stranger breaks into the house and causes her and her family terror. While the gimmick could have been really cool, the two directors saw fit to give you odd angles, not show the actual violence, or even anything that was going on. The constant dark and concentration on static objects gave the directors obvious places to do cuts but nothing ever really frightens you. Top the film off with an ending that has been done better in many other movies, this remake gives you no scares.

Peter Jackson Film

Watch this…

The Frighteners

Michael J. Fox plays a con man riding people’s house of ghosts—ones he’s sent there himself. But soon the ghost and the terror are all too real, and Fox’s character is the only one that can stop them. This suspenseful horror movie is a fresh take on ghosts and is visually stunning. Fox gives a great performance, and the plot is gripping. Packed with humor and horror, The Frighteners is one of Jackson’s best.

…Not that

 

Lord of the Rings

Because everyone in this world (other than me) has seen these movies a bazillion times, can quote every line, knows every difference between the books and the movies, and (like me) knows in their heart of hearts that The Hobbit should not be made into three films. Go ahead and check some of Jackson’s other works.