Fans of Ransom Riggs’s inspired novel Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children may be surprised when the upcoming adaptation turns the book’s shadowy Hollowgasts into a very specific new enemy: a man named Barron.
In the novel, the peculiar-hunting Hollowgasts are an ever-present, yet largely anonymous villainous organization that operate at the fringes of Peregrine’s story. In Tim Burton’s adaptation, however, that collective evil appears condensed, as one character: Samuel L. Jackson’s Barron. Obviously, no one is mad that Samuel L. Jackson has signed up to track down Ymbrynes, however, his character has been created solely for the screen, a fact that might be cause for curiosity among fans.
In response, Burton has explained that he was intrigued by the thematic similarity between Peregrine and old world fables which were, in the director’s words, “horrible, graphic” stories. In book form, Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children is not that. There are absolutely elements of suspense, excitement, and action, but those scenes are typically written with a light hand, and only a fleeting glimpse at the true nature of the beast.
So, condensing that nemesis into a figurehead (à la Mr. Jackson) is a way to visually hammer home the scary nature of the book’s old world fairy tale elements by allowing audiences to more easily relate to the film’s tormentor.
Don’t expect Jackson to pull any punches when he goes after Jacob Portman and his adopted peculiar family, either. Ever the risk taker, Burton says that the original novel wasn’t written for the YA audience, that the tale is equally enjoyable for both kids and adults and he’s working hard to, “keep true to the spirit of the book.”
The film’s producers are already saying that Peregrine is looking more and more like the director’s earlier work. It’s more Edward Scissorhands than Alice in Wonderland. That means a darker, more ominous universe teeming with deadly forces that aren’t relegated to lurking in the shadows.