For those in the dark, Death Note is a manga series with a delightfully twisted premise: A young student discovers a supernatural notebook that allows him to kill anybody whose name he writes inside. He takes it upon himself to launch a crusade to rid the world of “evil,” only to attract an investigation by the police and the world’s greatest detective. The story has been adapted multiple times, as both an anime and live-action Japanese film series. Last April, Warner Bros purchased the rights to produce an American film adaptation of the story, but it went through a number of setbacks and delays, eventually making its way to Netflix.
Since then, things have been going well for the film, which began filming in June. Director Adam Wingard (Blair Witch) is overseeing a cast which includes Nat Wolff (The Fault in Our Stars) as the protagonist Light, Keith Stanfield (Straight Outta Compton) as L, and Willem Dafoe (John Wick). Before the project moved to Netflix, it was announced that it was definitely expected to receive an R-rating.
In an interview with Collider, Wingard confirmed that the film still wouldn’t be pulling any punches. He likened the tone of his Death Note to The Guest, though assured fans it is a completely different beast. Additionally, Wingard promised plenty of violence to warrant the R-rating:
“We can do whatever we want. That was the cool thing about it because it’s an anime film. So, technically, it’s a cartoon that you bring to life. To me, the thing about anime is that it’s so adult-oriented. I remember going to Suncoast growing up and you see Akira there with the little ‘Not for Kids’ sticker on it. That always made an impact on me. So, doing my first live-action anime thing, to me it was important that you have those adult themes. So, it’s got nudity, it’s got swearing, it’s got a ton of violence. Jason Eisener, who did Hobo with a Shotgun. I brought him on – I’m good friends with him – as second-unit director. There’s basically like three good Jason Eisner short films in there and they’re all very gory. I was able to just turn him loose sometimes and just do some crazy stuff.”
A lot can go wrong in a film adaptation. Whether it’s rushed pacing due to a limited running time, a misunderstanding of tone, or simple erosion of quality. Death Note is a gruesome story, so it’s heartening to hear that its adaptation won’t be hampered by a need to play to a family audience. Questionable adjustments to the film’s cultural setting make it uncertain whether it will win over die-hard fans of the original material. But with a fantastic director and cast, the film may yet shape up to be something special.
Stay tuned to Screen Rant for updates on Death Note as they hit.
Death Note is slated for release on Netflix sometime in 2017.