Death Note (2017)

I wonder how many people wish they had their own Death Note after seeing this…

Light Turner, a bright student, stumbles across a mystical notebook that has the power to kill any person whose name he writes in it.

Adam Wingard is back and he’s back at taking another stab at a studio remake. It’s a ballsy move to remake/reboot something that is already much loved. Last year he broke my heart rebooting my all time favourite film The Blair Witch Project which I now no longer can just shorten to say Blair Witchugh

Death Note; originally a Japanese magna series from 2003, with major success spawned into an Anime series, several live action films, video games, endless merchandise and now a USA based adaptation for Netflix.

Undoubtedly a cult classic, one that is praised for its exploration into death, murder and power. But, Netflix weirdly has decided to take a different route and not delve into these darker themes, rather montage and breeze through the most interesting aspects and focus more on a forced romantic angle that lacks any real chemistry between Light (Nat Wolff) and Mia (Margaret Qualley).

The characterization is shoddy at best. Leading man Light (Wolff) is a whiny teenager, Mia (Qualley) is underdeveloped and L (Lakeith Stanfield) is a wasted opportunity, his character’s antics felt far too exaggerated. Each character lacks a clear motivation and is hardly likeable, that is except for Ryuk (voiced perfectly by Willem Dafoe) but unfortunately his character only fades in and out of the film, a regrettable action missed as this is a character that could have been far more utilized.

Death Note is another unfortunate misstep for a director I still hold hope for. The kills don’t shy away from spraying blood and brain, they are fun inventive acts and resonant with the guilty pleasure film franchise Final Destination. Wingard’s style can be fleetingly seen, visually the film is very pleasing, at times we are thrown into shades of neon enchantment and the soundtrack has a synth-y 80s vibe, reminiscent of the directors earlier brilliance of The Guest (2014).

With a tighter script and less teenage melodrama Death Note could have been a success. But the uneven tone and building moments of convenience leave this film feeling a little undesirable. I say bring back the Adam Wingard from over stylized memorable thrillers like You’re Next and The Guest and let’s all take a moment to pray that the rumours aren’t true that his next step is remaking I Saw The Devil. LEAVE IT ALONE!

5.0 / 10

“Every human spends the last moments of his life in the shadow of a death god”


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