Well this is an interesting new development.
As a fan of the original Death Note manga, the upcoming Netflix film is one I've been looking forward to ever since it was announced. Death Note is one of those few manga adaptations that I feel could work in a mainstream Hollywood film. Sure, there are others that fans have wanted to see get made for years, but when you actually break it down, many anime and manga series are so dependent on an audience's knowledge of Japanese culture that it makes it incredibly difficult to actually adapt for a mainstream American audience. There are a few instances of that in Death Note, but not so many that it's an insurmountable obstacle. As such, it seemed primed for an American adaptation.
In addition, director Adam Wingard has produced some good content in the past. Between horror films like The Guest, V/H/S/2, and You're Next, he's certainly established himself as a solid talent in Hollywood. Granted, Death Note tends to play out more like a thriller than a horror story, but regardless, he seemed like a solid choice.
But what can we expect to see out of the upcoming Netflix film in terms of content? Will it be a toned down version of itself, or will it go full-on with the violence. If a recent interview with Collider is any indication, it sounds like Wingard is going even further than the manga even dared.
Here's what he had to say about moving from something like The Blair Witch to something like Death Note:
"The Blair Witch is very much a mainstream horror film, and I think Death Note's a return for me to go back and do something kinda weird. It's more along the tone of The Guest, but something completely different. It's kind of a genre mashup in a lot of ways, too. There's lots of different types of movies within the movie itself. So, it's gonna be a fun, crazy movie."
Wingard then went on to talk about any potential limitations they may have since it's a Netflix film, where it has no 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’re 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 sometime, and just do some crazy stuff.”
I don't really know how I feel about this, in all honesty. As violent as the concept of Death Note is, one can't forget that it was originally serialized in Shonen Jump, a magazine aimed at boys ages 8-18. There's certainly some room in that demographic to have some dark and violent themes, but as far as gore and nudity...that seems to miss the spirit of the manga. On the whole, I worry that Wingard is too influenced by other more mature series than by the source material itself.
That being said, a part of me still appreciates that they're willing to go as far as they need to tell the story they need to tell. Will it be too far? Only time will tell?
What do you think of Wingard's comments? Do they give you more confidence in the upcoming Death Note film? Let us know in the comments below!
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