Death Note is one of those films that’s been in development for a long time. Sure, it’s no Alita: The Battle Angel or Akira (both of which have already likely been in development for nearly a decade or more), but all things considered, it’s gone through a lot of different hands. Adapting material is hard enough, but adapting material from a foreign country comes with all kinds of other issues such as cultural differences and tonal expectations.
It’s had a winding road of development, but has now landed under the direction of The Blair Witch and The Guest director Adam Wingard, and Mind Games series creator Kyle Killen for the script. Before the script landed on Killen’s desk, however, it went through several others, including that of Fantastic Four writer and The Exorcist series creator Jeremy Slater.
However, while Slater isn’t currently working on the project anymore, that’s not to say that he has nothing to say about it. After all, Killen worked with the draft that Slater turned in. Speaking with Collider, Slater talked a bit about the film and what viewers can expect from it once it drops on Netflix next year.
“They brought on another writer, Kyle Killen, who is incredibly talented. I know he did the final production rewrites on my script. Thereâ€™s an entire arbitration process on who wrote what, but I think they used quite a bit of my script, as a jumping off point. I think itâ€™s going to be really special, not only because Adam Wingard is such a fabulously talented director, but I think we really found a cool, fun approach to Death Note where we narrowed in on what it is. Itâ€™s the movie Heat, except with teenagers, and one of those teenagers has superpowers. Itâ€™s much darker, much funnier, and much more exciting than I think people are anticipating. Weâ€™re also trying really hard to stay true to that great moral complexity of the source material.”
The moral complexity he speaks of, of course, is the question of whether or not one man has the right to decide who deserves to live or die, no matter how altruistic their intentions.
For those unfamiliar, Death Note follows a high school student who finds a notebook with special powers. Whoever’s name he writes in that notebook will die. He takes this opportunity to mold a world in his image, ridding it of murderers, rapists, thieves, and everything in between. Meanwhile, a prodigy detective (codenamed L) joins a growing task force dedicated to solving the mystery behind these random deaths. Given the patterns, there’s no way it can be a coincidence. And thus begins a game of cat and mouse between the two geniuses, resulting in a supernatural thriller of epic proportions.
Last week, Wingard certainly threw me for a loop when he seemed to allude to the fact that the film will have unnecessary nudity andviolence — content which is alluded to in the source material, but not directly shown. This made me think that Wingard didn’t have a complete understanding of the source material. While Slater, in his comments above, is by no means discussing the final script, what he said gave me some faith that the film will ultimately stay true to the spirit of the manga, even if it is dialed up a few notches. In fact, comparing it to films like Heat or even The Dark Knight are just the kind of comparisons I’d like to see.
Let’s just hope that the film retained those similarities between the two drafts.
What do you think of Slater’s comments? Do they do much to restore any faith in the project? Let us know in the comments down below!
Death Note hits Netflix next year!
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