Tarot/Horrorscope Book vs Movie Review

Tarot directed by Spenser Cohen and Anna Halberg (2024)

Horrorscope by John Peel aka Nicholas Adams (1992)

This book and movie are very different, so I will go through the movie plot first, then the book plot and we’ll go from there.

I am getting right into the plot details, so there will be spoilers going forward!

Movie plot

The movie has college friends renting out at house in the Catskills and they find an old tarot deck in the basement. Haley, a girl who has recently broken up with her boyfriend who is also part of the friend group, is really into astrology/tarot/horoscope and they ask her to do a reading using the cards. She tells them it is bad luck to use someone else’s cards, but ultimately concedes. She does a reading for each of them, and then the next day they begin to die and their death reflects what their reading had said. For example, the second guy was told he needs to be careful to not be lead down the wrong track, and he ends up hit by a train. His sign is also rebellious, and he had been in a resected zone and he was found in dirt and that is also part of his sign. The main card for him had been “the hermit” and we see that drawing from the card brought to life and is what kills him.

After the second death, the remaining friends believe the tarot to be why the two friends so far have died. They do an internet search and find a woman who wrote online about people who died after tarot readings. They drive to where she lives, and we find out she is the survivor of another experience like this. She was the one doing the readings, and she hadn’t read her own, so that is why she lived. Over the decades, she researched into it and found out it was due to a cursed deck of cards-the same deck the friends had found in that basement.

The deck was made, and cursed, by an astrologer who was the tarot reader for some count. She saw his wife and child would die, and when that ended up coming true, he has the Astrologer’s daughter killed. She then kills herself to make this cursed deck and now anyone who reads their fortunes with it, will end up dying .

They go back to that house to burn the deck, but when that doesn’t work, they call that lady to come and help them. She summons the astrologer, but all that does is get her killed. The astrologer tries to kill the rest, but then Haley uses the cards to do a reading on the astrologist herself, and this ends up breaking the curse and getting rid of the cards and the astrologist is now at peace. Happily ever after.

Book Plot

The takes place at a high school and kids are being killed. Robyn is the main character and she is very into horoscope and she writes a daily horoscope in the school paper. She and others realize that the killings are being down in astrological order, and on a day when she forecasts a bad day for that person. The person is also killed in a way that reflects their sign. For example, the Aries sign is a ram and she is killed with a wool scarf, and the taurus sign is killed by being stabbed as if gored by a bull, which is the taurus sign.

Robyn and her friends try to figure out who is the killer and even suspect Robyn’s recent friend, Jeff, a weird kid who has no friends. Long story short, it ends up being the school’s janitor. He is envious of these kids living great lives, and he is trying to perform a ritual by killing kids from each sign in order to bring him good luck. He is killed though when Robyn punches while in a lake and he falls and is sucked into this sand pit at the bottom of the lake.

Similarities and differences

So obviously there are a lot of changes here. The movie takes the supernatural route, whereas the book had a regular guy be the killer. But there are some similarities as well.

In the book, most of the guys are all skeptical of astrology and give the girls who are into it, a hard time. However, Jeff comes around and actually suggest he and Robyn do an astrology related science project. This is similar to the movie where Haley’s boyfriend doesn’t believe in any of this, but at the end he admits to looking up horoscope related things.

Of course, their deaths also reflect their sign, and in the movie, their tarot reading as well. I did really like this aspect in the movie especially. I liked the Final Destination vibe to it and some of the deaths were really creepy and tense. The Avantika character’s man card is the magician, and her death was the best in that it was so creepy and disturbing and anxiety inducing. And the movie is PG-13, so they can’t just rely on gore but really more on being creepy and scary in other ways.

The book was a bit more graphic than I would have expected, but it was also pretty thrilling at times and having the killings mirror the zodiac signs was a fun touch. (Is fun the right word? Lol).

In both, at the end the main girl tries to outsmart the killer. In the movie, she does a reading for the astrologist, and in the book, Robyn reveals to the janitor that she is the one who prints the horoscopes and she knows he rewrote her latest one and because of that, his plan will no longer work. This doesn’t work on him thought and he still tries to go through with killing others.

The end of the book also has three of them together that survive and same goes for the movie. We have Haley and her boyfriend, but then one of their other friends whom they thought was dead also shows up to help them.

Book vs movie

The books writing makes it clear this is targeting a younger audience, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t still enjoy it. The janitor being the killer was so obvious, he is even described as having a scar on his face and so often when looking for evidence, it would end with him saying that he must have put it in the incinerator already. He also is having a figurine thing being made of Vlad the Impaler which seems like an obvious red flag.

I missed that there was no mystery aspect to the movie, but I did like hearing the origin story even if it wasn’t the most original thing out there. When the lady shows up to the house though, how was she so useless?? She has spent decades researching this, and then she dies so soon! I liked her character and wish she would have lasted a bit longer.

All in all, it is hard to say which wins between book and movie because it is a very loose adaptation. I don’t think I would ever watch the movie again because it was bit too creepy for me. I am a scaredy-cat sometimes, and this was a bit much. You might be saying, if you are easily scared then why are you even doing this video?? Well, because part of me likes scary things and I gravitate towards the scary, but then when it is too scary, I end up regretting it lol. Maybe if I were to watch this in a group, I would be okay though. It is pretty cheesy, but it knows it is being cheesy so in some ways it works. There is a line at the end where they say they beat fate and she says, “F— fate” which was so corny. Also, the friend showing up?? I guess it made sense based on his reading, but it still seemed like too happy an ending.

The book was very nostalgic because even though I didn’t read this when I was young, I know I would have loved it if I had. And books like this were everywhere growing up and even just their covers would creepy me out! But yeah, neither one here is amazing, but both serve their purpose fairly well. They know what they are and aren’t trying to be anything different than that. Usually when I can’t choose, I go with my default and say the book wins, so I guess I will do that here as well. Also the book title is so much better! Why did the movie change that?!

Before I end though, once random thing in the book is that we learn Robyn’s parents participate in renaissance fairs but the official name is Society for Creative Anachronism. We hear quite a bit about it and in the author’s note all he says that SAC is a real group and that he would like to thank the group he had been part of and suggests people look up their local SAC if it sounds like something the reader would be into. So this book about horoscope and astrology was really just a sales pitch for renaissance fairs in disguise?? So random lol.