So I know it’s a bit late to jump on the horror train that comes around every year at Halloween, but I had to wait to see the movie before being able to write this review. Horns is the story of a young man, struggling to find a reason for life after his long-time girlfriend is raped and brutally murdered, a crime which he is thought to have committed, despite never being convicted.

Ignatius Perrish loved Merrin Williams since the very first day he saw her in church. She had signaled to Ig, with the gold cross around her neck, turning it this way and that in the sun, causing bright flashes of light to temporarily blind him. When he sees the cross lying in a heap on her pew after the service has ended, he knows he’s meant to return it.

At 15, Ig and Merrin fall in love. 

At 26, Ig awakes after one hell of a bender and realizes he is growing horns. Merrin has been dead a year. His parents still claim to love him but treat him like he’s hiding something. His best friend, Lee, hasn’t been in touch for months. At first, Ig thinks the horns are a figment of his imagination, but when people start telling Ig their darkest desires and asking his permission to fulfill them, he realizes the truth is much more sinister. The horns, which at first terrify Ig, quickly turn into a means for him to find answers about who really killed Merrin.

“Maybe all the schemes of the devil were nothing compared to what man could think up.”

Now let me start by saying that Joe Hill is Stephen King’s son, a fact I’m sure he hoped to escape by dropping the King surname and going with Hill instead. Yet, everyone talks about it because King is considered one of the greatest masters of horror. In my opinion, Hill lives up to the family name (even though he doesn’t use it). I loved Horns. The horror is not overt, but, the true evil of man drives the story. Even as Ig turns into a literal devil, you can’t help but be on his side.

I actually first heard about this book a couple years ago when there were murmurings of a film of the same name, featuring Daniel Radcliffe. I read the book then and there, because I always try to read a book before seeing the movie. However, it would be more than a year before the movie actually came to the U.S. A couple of months ago, I heard it would be released here on Halloween, and I raced to reread the book.

This was one time I almost wish I hadn’t read the book before seeing the movie. For how long this movie has been hyped, I went in with pretty high expectations. Not to the mention, the movie posters (only one of which is displayed at the top of this post) were pretty amazing. The horns, the snake, the forest; it just looks like a great movie. Radcliffe does a great American accent, and Juno Temple is a lovely Merrin Williams, but there was so much lost in the film. I don’t want to give any spoilers for either the book or the movie, so I’ll keep it vague. I will say that one of the most important themes of the book: man vs. devil is completely lost in the movie. Ig’s best friend, Lee Torneau, also loses a lot of important characteristics, which really affected the overall movie.

Despite these shortcomings, Horns was a decent movie, and any Radcliffe fan should take the time to watch it. If, for any reason, you’re going to choose between the book and the movie, though: Read the book. Hands down, it’s much more complex than the movie, and there is a lot more to get invested in.

Live by Hermione’s motto and “Just read the book.”

Horns, the book, can be found on CPL’s shelves.

Horns, the movie, is currently playing in select theaters and can also be found on Video on Demand.

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3 thoughts on “Movie vs. Book: Horns

  1. Too bad about the movie. I haven’t read the book yet but I am currently reading Heart-Shaped Box so I may move on to Horns after. I am really enjoying Heart-Shaped Box and I am thinking it could be an okay movie, but I think the same scenario plays out just a few too many times to make a feature length film.

    It is good seeing Radcliffe getting some solid roles. The guy has some serious acting chops. Overall, I think I will take Hermione’s advice!

    1. Glad to hear other people enjoy Hill, too. I’ve been meaning to read Heart Shaped Box, but I think I lost my copy. Guess I’ll have to borrow it from the library!

      Let us know how you like Horns if you end up reading it.

  2. Now I saw the movie before reading the book and I’m actually pretty glad I did because although there are similar and generally the same story the movie script, as often happens, took some liberties in changing things around a bit. The movie too was more of a suspenseful “who did it?” “What’s happening?” whirlwind of a story, though overall well managed. The book gets straight to the point early on and focuses on Ig’s person more so than the movie. You learn more about the characters and learn of traits completely left out in the movie. Some characters who are left out in the movie were a surprise as well.
    I’d say that if you plan to see the movie, it would make a more interesting experience if you read the book after and not before. But that’s just me, at any rate I’d recommend you do both, in the order of your preference.

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