The Death Note is a powerful tool. In the hands of someone evil, the Death Note could lead to carnage and devastation. But what happens if an ancient tool of supernatural vengeance lands in the hands of a high schooler with... alternate plans? Netflix and horror master Adam Wingard are about to find out, as they bring the beloved Japanese anime story Death Note to life in a Netflix original film. The first trailer just dropped, so check it out:
Death Note started as a manga story about a popular teenager who mysteriously receives a powerful book. If he writes someone's name in the Death Note, they die. You can even write HOW the person is supposed to die, though if you neglect to be specific, they'll simply die of a heart attack. Adam Wingard (You're Next, The Guest) has agreed to translate the classic story for an American audience, shifting the action to Seattle and giving it a Western feel -- Western civilization, not the Western genre. He has cast Nat Wolff (Paper Towns, The Fault in Our Stars) as the main character, Light, who receives the book from a menacing demon Ryuk (played by Willem Dafoe). And it's that haunting creature we get a quick glimpse of in the last frames of the trailer.
But there's a second component to Death Note. As Light begins to explore the limits of his new power, he adopts a serial killer's name -- Kira -- and therefore attracts the attentions of the police force. A super detective known only as L (Keith Stanfield) protects his identity so that Light can't write his name in the Death Note. The movie eventually becomes a battle of wits between the detective and the high schooler, and while it is brief, I think we got our first look at L in the trailer, too.
Netflix has been stepping up its game when it comes to original programming, not just on the TV series side -- where Marvel characters and first-rate comedies thrive -- but now on the film production side. Major filmmakers are making the leap over to the streaming service, and Adam Wingard bringing his version of the anticipated Death Note to Netflix is a huge coup for the company, and us, the audience members.
We won't have to wait too long to see how Death Note turned out. The trailer says it will be on Netflix on August 25, so plan accordingly. In addition, we were lucky enough to visit the set of Adam Wingard's Death Note recently, so stay tuned for more exclusive coverage of our visit in the coming days.
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Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Sean created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.