Courtesy Lionsgate Daniel Radcliffe’s character discovers he has acquired dark new powers in “Horns.”
“The book is a really unhappy, paranoid novel by a really unhappy, paranoid man,” says author Joe Hill of his thriller Horns, now a movie starring Daniel Radcliffe as a man who grows devil horns after he’s accused of murdering his girlfriend.
“I wasn’t in a great place mentally when I wrote it, (but) I’m very proud of Horns. I think it’s a really fun novel.
“I had tremendous success with Heart Shaped Box and I fell into that cliché, the second novel trap. I wrote 400 pages of a novel I threw away. It was called The Surrealist Glass and it didn’t work. It was no good. Although in some ways the Surrealist Glass was the first draft of Horns because there were ideas and elements and even one or two chapters that were almost lifted wholesale and slotted into Horns.”
The book finally came into focus when Hill, the son of none other than Stephen King, remembered a line he once read in a review of a sci-fi movie: ‘This movie doesn’t quite succeed because it isn’t about anything except itself.”
“The science-fiction film (that the critic) was talking about was a prequel to a well-known franchise about trade federations and robots blowing each other up,” says Hill, the eldest son of horror legend Stephen King, “and it wasn’t about anything except lasers, guns and robots. It didn’t ask any of the great, almost unanswerable questions that people turn to fiction to explore.
“The one thing I always look for in a story is for it to have some sort of internal life.
“To be about something more than just a ghost or a vampire or a devil; to ask some kind of interesting question so it is about something bigger than itself. That’s very possible to do in fantasy.
“I think any story about the devil is the same way. What happens when all the dirty secrets come out? What would it be like to be tempted by the things you fear most?”
The resulting book earned critical praise — Publisher’s Weekly called it a “compulsively readable supernatural thriller” — and snagged him a Bram Stoker Award nomination for best novel. “Now when he’s asked what he thinks of Alexandre Aja’s film adaptation of his “unhappy, paranoid novel” he is effusive.“I think the film is wonderful,” he says.
“It has a lot of cross-genre elements. It’s funny. It has romance. It has a tragic aspect. It has a horror movie aspect to it.
“Someone asked me when I was in Toronto for the premiere, ‘What genre is it?’, and I said, ‘It’s a tragecomehorredy.’ I have no idea what the rest of the world will make of it, but I think it’s a lot of fun.”