Trailer for the film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's book "Child of God."

Three full weeks of 2014 passed before James Franco did something bookish and newsworthy: He directed "Child of God," a film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's 1973 novel, and the (extremely violent) trailer is now online.

"Child of God" was McCarthy's third novel; like his other early books, it is set in rural Tennessee. In it, a man who is a town outcast is pushed and compelled beyond the margins of society to depravity and murder. Brutal, wild, and without conscience, he is described -- bitterly? ironically? feelingly? -- as "a child of God much like yourself perhaps."

Like much of McCarthy's work, the book is intense, violent, and extreme; the reading can be hard going. Which might be why it's taken more than 40 years for it to come to film.

Spotlight Pictures straightforwardly bills the movie as "thriller, horror." It's got a strong cast -- Scott Haze, Tim Blake Nelson, and, yes, James Franco -- with what seems to be a stunning performance by Haze.

Although Franco has taken a lot of flack for daring to adapt William Faulkner's "As I Lay Dying," I think he should get credit for his ambition. He's getting powerful, difficult works of literature on screen, "Child of God" included.

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James Franco does Cormac McCarthy: The 'Child of God' trailer

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