(The gist: Horns presents as a relatively quality adaptation to the novel Horns by Joe Hill. Like the book, I enjoyed it but was not dazzled and did not love it. I did, however, appreciate the deviation in making all the sinner’s confessions and misdeeds humor instead of horror, though that choice did knock Horns nearly out of the horror genre for me.)
I read Horns by Joe Hill a while ago, after thoroughly enjoying his Heart-Shaped Box. I enjoyed the book, just not as much as his other work or many of the works of his father (Stephen King). The narrative approach was a bit fractured, which lead me to get lost in the prose on more than one occasion, and I did not care for the spoiler at the very beginning of the novel. Nonetheless, I liked the book and so looked forward to see the movie.
Horns, the movie, followed its novel origins quite well, with a few significant deviations. It actually helped orientate me in places I had been lost in reading the story. Horns tells the story of Ig Perrish, who after being accused of murdering his girlfriend, begins growing horns out of his head that compel people to confess their darkest desires and allows him to command their behavior.
In the book, when Ig’s horns began to influence the people around him and they start to spout off and consummate their dark, dirty little desires, it was raw and disturbing; it was scary. However, in the movie, these scenes were instead humorous. It was ridiculous to hear the people say they wanted to eat a box of donuts or set their mother on fire; it was hilarious to see people start punching each other or having sex in front of him.
This was definitely a significant difference in the experience, but I appreciated it. It was fun to laugh at each sequence. My personal favorite was when a male reporter decked a female reporter right in the face.
The plot was somewhat disjointed like its literary counterpart; however, it did remove the unfortunate opening spoiler, allowing you (if you had not read the book) to guess at the killer for the duration of the movie. I will not spoil it for you either, but I will say the killer is endowed with some inappropriate bad assedness that kind of hobbled the ending for me.
The movie, I enjoyed. Harry Potter… I mean Daniel Radcliffe played a tortured and confused soul sprouting demon horns very well. And I believe we were all shocked by his brief but intense sex scene.
The ending, on the other hand, I hated. I cannot remember how well it lined up with the ending in the book (or if I even cared for the ending in the book), but it just did not work for me. I will not go into details so as to save the spoilers, but suffice it to say, it was incongruent with the rest of the movie.
The parts of the movie that were not humorous confessions and misdeeds were creepy enough, though Horns definitely flirts with the line between horror and simply suspense. Parts were creepy; parts were violent. However, with the control of the horns shifted to comic relief, it lost some of its grit and horror potential.
Horns, like the book before it, is worth a watch but probably not worth a second watch or a purchase. My viewing partners and I were relieved we had only rented it on Amazon.