The horror genre is really looking up to the streaming screens. Every month or so, there’s a deluge of new and old horror films and series. Now, one of the most iconic horror series, Death Note, comes to Netflix.
Death Note started out as a anime series and then spun itself off into a Manga series, a light novel, a television adaptation, several video games and three live-action films. Now, the American production of the film hits Netflix as an Original. The American series has a screenplay by Charles and Vlas Parlapanides, with Jeremy Slater. The direction is by Adam Wingard. Death Note stars Nat Wolff, Margareth Qualley and Lakeith Stanfiel as the main leads. Willem Dafoe plays Ryuk.
Death Note is about Light, a young boy who comes upon a book that’s quite frankly the book of death. Write a name on it, along with gory details about how a person does – and that person dies. Light is a boy with a troubled childhood. His mother died mysteriously, and he is standing up to bullies in school – even if that means getting beaten up. When he gets the book – and a girlfriend, Mia – he is just grasping the true power of it. That is when things start going wrong. The film follows the old principle of great power coming with great responsibilities, how power requires a mature mind with the right conscience, etc.
What’s Wow: Director Adam Wingard does a good job of getting the horror aspect downpat. The deaths in the film are almost off-camera, but offer a ‘cannot unsee’ glimpse of the true goriness that the human mind can decipher. Unfortunately, that is the only salvaging point of this Death Note.
What’s Blah: Without going to the anime, Netflix’s Death Note is largely a campy, teen angst film with horror aspects. The characters are run-of-the-mill. It’s troubling that what is a seminal horror franchise looks like some middle-budget horror film from the 80s.
The script, again, is patently Hollywood. A troubled kid gets a supernatural power and a girlfriend and now he’s hunted by the authorities as the bodies start piling up.
Anime followers might not like the avatar of Ryuk in the American version of Death Note. Again, Ryuk is a typical, run-of-the-mill evil character. He actually has no attributing points other than say a Chucky or a Freddy Krueger.
Parting Shot: Death Note is a good horror/action film as a standalone. However, it doesn’t do justice to its awesome franchise.
Cast: Nat Wolff, Lakeith Stanfield, Margaret Qualley, Shea Whigham, Paul Nakauchi, Jason Liles, Willem Dafoe
Directed By: Adam Wingard
Produced By: Roy Lee, Dan Lin, Masi Oka, Jason Hoffs, Ted Sarandos
The film is now available on Netflix
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