People always say you should do the right thing. Well, sometimes there is no right thing. Then you just have to pick the sin you can live with.
A few months ago I wrote a review of Joe Hill’s book, Horns, and after watching the movie decided to go back and make some comparisons. I definitely enjoyed the movie and it sticks fairly closely to the book. It also plants a pretty square focus on the sins that people are living with.
NOTE: A FEW SPOILERS FOR BOTH BOOK AND MOVIE MAY BE PRESENT.
The movie version of Horns starts by going back a little before the blackout night that grants Ig his new horns, and while most of the encounters are pretty similar, there is something a little different about seeing them play out on the screen. Listening to people air their dirty laundry – some of whom are pretty proud of their poor decisions – creates an atmosphere of disgust that is almost depressing in some cases. The confessions by Ig’s parents and the waitress at the diner are especially disturbing. But, in addition to the horns’ side effect of unwanted confessions, the movie plays up Ig’s power of persuasion a bit more. At one point he uses it to get back at the media sharks, who have been following him around ever since he was accused of Merrin’s murder. I liked this change of emphasis. I think that it kind of helps, since Radcliffe plays Ig as a little more likeable than the character in the book – having something that he does that is less than honorable helps even this out a bit.
There were definitely some differences, and a few that did take a little of the magic and humor out of the story. For example, the tree house becomes a stable, real-world affair rather than this kind of secret gift that Ig and Merrin share. It’s still their hideout and special place, but it doesn’t have the otherworldly significance of the book. And, there is no donning of readily available clothes after Ig transforms, which cuts out the “devil in the blue dress” joke, which I thought was incredibly funny. But, there are also some changes that I really, really liked – the use of the snakes, for example. There is a pretty funny exchange between Ig and and Terry regarding his new snake-around-the-neck look, and an incredible snake-as-killer scene.
This movie is long – it clocks at about two hours – but it’s not too long. It uses the time to create a different type of horror/dark fantasy experience. This is fitting, since Hill’s work is itself very different from much of the genre. The main meat of the story remains – the horror of Ig’s loss of control of almost everything in his life and the transformation that this loss wreaks upon him and those around him. If you haven’t watched this movie yet, you should – it’s well worth the time.