Anime may be the kind of thing that makes Geoff roll his eyeballs so hard that they pop out of his head, but there’s still some damn fine shows to be seen within this Japanese art form. Take Death Note for example. It has a premise that sounds ridiculous as its main character finds a book that allows him to kill anyone he wants to, just by writing their name inside of it.
Sounds silly, right? Well it really isn’t, as the Death Note manga and its original anime adaptation is handled with unbelievable precision and plotting to create a truly cerebral mystery that centers around the idea of playing god. It’s the kind of show that has more twists than a marathon of M Night Shamoo the Killer Whale movies and has earned a cult following over the years.
Naturally, Hollywood wanted a piece of that. A Death Note adaptation for the west was in development for ages, but it looks like Adam “Blair Witch” Wingard is going to get the property moving again now that Netflix has their hands on it. Speaking to Collider, Wingard promised something a little more “weird” with this adaptation:
Blair Witch is very much a mainstream horror film, and I think Death Note’s a return for me to go back to doing something kind of 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 going to be a fun, crazy movie.
And here’s where things get even more promising. Warner Bros. originally optioned Death Note for an eventual release, but gave up on it and abandoned the project. And that was a blessing in disguise, as Netflix decided to pick up the rights for Death Note. The streaming service has made a name for itself by funding series and animation which networks have outright ignored, to great success. And Wingard is going to use that liberty to create something that is going for a mature audience:
We can do whatever we want. And 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 sometimes, and just do some crazy stuff. With the combined efforts, I think we ended up with a really nasty and crazy film.
Right now, the cast of Death Note includes Nat Wolff as Light Yagami (That name will probably be changed though), Keith Stanfield, Margaret Qualley, Paul Nakauchi, and Shea Whigham. Oh, and Willem Dafoe as the voice of that Death God who has a thing for apples.