Tim Pratt
SF and Fantasy Writer

WhiskeyHorror: Horns

Last night, we drank Glenfiddich 12 (I am not a sophisticated scotch drinker; I like smooth and mellow. I  hope someday to develop a taste for scotches that taste like arson in a peat bog, but haven’t yet), and watched Horns, the new film based on my favorite Joe Hill novel. (Except when N0S4A2 is my favorite. I go back and forth.) We also split a Shallow Grave porter from Evil Twin, which was super tasty. (And, you know, horror-movie thematic.)

Avoiding spoilers goes against my nature, but I’ll try as the film is so new. The basic premise is: Small-town radio DJ Ig Parrish is accused of murdering his longtime girlfriend while he was blackout drunk. He’s *pretty* sure he didn’t do it, and everyone else is pretty sure he did. One morning he wakes up with devil horns growing from his head, and people begin confessing, and indulging in, secret desires in his presence. He uses his new weird powers to try to figure out what really happened that terrible night.

I still love that setup. It’s so bizarre and leads to so many fun scenes. The bit in the doctor’s office when he goes to try and have his horns removed is fantastic, as is the reporters’ brawl.

Daniel Radcliffe does a great job as Ig, and was recognizably the same character from the book — basically well-meaning, but kind of a fuckup, with some weird baggage and personal issues. Ig’s more of a loser in the movie than he is in the book, but it works.

(Katrina and I, of course, couldn’t resist the occasional Harry Potter joke. “It’s like if Harry Potter grew up and started using meth!” “Why doesn’t he just talk to the snakes? He’s a Parseltongue.” But mostly he inhabited the character.)

Heather Graham is fun in a bit part as a waitress/witness hoping to use the murder trial to get famous on TV. The actor playing Ig’s best friend/lawyer Lee Tourneau didn’t impress me much at first, but he won me over at the end when a bit of manic laughter broke through the character’s calm facade, making it clear how much of a facade it was the rest of time.

The film isn’t as rich and strange as the book, but it would’ve been hard to get all the Treehouse of the Mind stuff into the movie in a way that made sense, the speech to the snakes in the foundry from the novel would’ve stopped the pacing dead, and it’s natural that the characters are simplified. If you like the movie (or hate it!) I do recommend reading the novel, especially for how it sheds more light on Lee’s character and motivations.

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