Earlier this week I watched the movie Horns (2013) which is adapted from the novel of the same name by Joe Hill. You can read my review of the book I wrote awhile back here. When the movie was first announced I was a bit skeptical. I loved the book but I didn’t like what I’d seen from press releases. I wasn’t too impressed with the casting of Daniel Radcliffe as the main character Ig. He just didn’t fit the vision of the character I had while reading the book. Not saying he’s a bad actor. I gave it some time and watched the movie with an open mind, and I’d say that it is a pretty good adaptation of the novel. Yeah, there are little bits that annoy me, like why’s it set in Washington state? Wasn’t the book in Maine? And the casting of Lee didn’t work for me at all. In the book I had the impression he was a slick lawyer with a clean cut appearance and charming smile. A dashing good looking man while Ig was the scruffy nerd. The actor that played Lee didn’t look the part at all, not that he did a bad job acting – he was fine, it just looked like he was in his freshman year at a junior college instead of being a lawyer. There were some other minor changes but not too bad. I really liked the opening scene with Ig and his girlfriend and how they repeated it later in the movie. Visually it clever. There are scenes such as the one with the mother of the bratty girl in the doctor’s office and the fist fight between members of the media that are brilliantly acted and well adapted from the book. In fact I believe it’s exactly the same which is great cause Hill has a flair for dark comedy. Dark twisted comedy. The best scene I would say is the one between Ig and his mom. That one even elicited a surprised gasp and laugh from my wife. One of t hose ‘Oh shit!’ moments and definitely one that’ll stand out in my memory.
On the downside I didn’t care for the heavy CGI effects toward the end of movie, but I did love the makeup sfx on Ig in the later half of the movie. Quite brilliant stuff. Ig’s horns grew on me, yes that’s a pun, as I watched the movie. When I first saw them I thought they looked really fake. Like Halloween costume fake. But honestly, I stopped nitpicking while watching the movie because the storyline and characters were engaging. I think that’s the sign of a good movie.
As far as the book goes what really appealed to me about it was the characters and the relationships they had in it. I felt that the movie fell short in this department. The love between Ig and his girl is a major part of the book and the driving force behind Ig’s actions after her death. The movie tried to capture this but it’s hard to do through short flashbacks. In that way the movie was lacking in depth.
Horns is well acted and directed as a stand alone movie and as an book adaption. It’s plot is plodding prior to Ig’s horns so if you’re looking for busted heads and zombies and gore you’ll have to wait quite awhile before you see any blood. But if you like smartly written and well acted supernatural horror that deals more with people then beasties then you’ll dig this one even if you’ve not read the book.