Let it in!: A Babadook review.

Directed by: Jennifer Kent.

Starring: Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman, Daniel Henshall, Hayley McElhinnery

When this film was released in 2014, it came as an unexpected breath of fresh air in a rapidly stagnating genre, an original and boldly delivered creeper with an old school visual flair to match its considerable horror chops and made a modest $7.5 million off a $2 million budget, not bad for a self penned independent film from a new director.

The Babadook was one of a series of films in recent years that signalled a seismic shift in horror movies, too often in the genre in recent years has writing been thrown out of the window for the sake of a quick turnover and easy returns, not with The Babadook. The Babadook was written & directed by Australian director Jennifer Kent in her directorial debut, a remarkably confident and assured debut at that I may add, she handles The Babadook like a seasoned professional. A widely allegorical tale in a number of ways, be it the fear of losing ones mind or the worries that go hand in hand with single parenthood and the Babadook itself almost being the physical manifestation of Amelia’s unresolved grief of her husbands death, always there, always growing and seemingly not dwindling in its presence, The Babadook is certainly a more thoughtful affair than most horror movies. The Babadook is also a film that wears its influences on its sleeve, be it nods toward films such as The Shining with respects to the lead characters mental deterioration, in respect to The Babadook itself there are parallels with German expressionist cinema of the early 20th Century such as The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari and even Lon Chaney’s sinister antagonist in London After Midnight for the look of the beast, Kent certainly knows her cinematic onions so to speak.

There are wonderful turns from the cast, in particular leads Essie Davis & Noah Wiseman who’s mother/son relationship is completely believable, Davis’ slow decent into mania is palpable and sympathetically delivered, the struggles of single parenthood and unresolved grief making for a powerful performance. Wiseman makes for a decidedly troubled and at times downright creepy acting partner to Davis as her traumatised son who’s understandably not too fond of bedtime stories as the film progresses.

The Babadook is a fantastic modern horror, well written, conceived and shot by debut director Kent and full of the prerequisite chills one would expect and testament to changing attitudes to horror in recent years of becoming much more thoughtful and considered affairs. If you are a lover of horror cinema and haven’t checked it out, for god sake, LET. IT. IN!


Love Never Dies: A Bram Stoker’s Dracula review.

Directed By: Francis Ford Coppola.

Starring: Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, Anthony Hopkins, Richard. E Grant, Keanu Reeves, Cary Elwes, Bill Campbell, Tom Waits

Plot: A forsaken Romanian knight finds a way to cheat death by drinking the blood of the living all the while longing to be reunited with his long dead love. When a London Solicitor arrives at his castle he sees the face of his departed love in a photo in the solicitors possession and leaves to pursue her.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula is one of the first horror films I recall being utterly transfixed by as a child, a child far too young to be watching such a film I might add, some 12 years old watching on a VHS I had rented from my local video shop. This isn’t to say it was my first dalliance with the genre, I had only prior been awakened by the allure of the Alien movies, The Thing and The Fly, It is fairly safe to say I had already come into contact with much more graphic and much more terrifying films prior to this but it was the first that utterly hypnotised me with its presentation.

Directed by Francis Ford Coppola, Bram’s Stokers Dracula is a masterclass in the art of direction and the history of the craft. Coppola was massively reticent to employ any computer aided trickery and instead wished to employ every traditional camera trick he could to achieve the films visual effects, employing his own son, Roman Coppola, to oversee that part of filming. Rear-projection, forced perspective, multiple exposures, miniatures, matte paintings, all were employed at some point during the movies duration to startlingly good effect. Coppola on the whole achieves excellent performances from his cast (with two notable exceptions I’ll get to in a moment) a feat he achieved by utilising team building exercises, table reads and theatre technique to get them to gel, on the whole it worked splendidly. His direction on this film on the whole is excellent, coaxing some memorable performances from his cast & evocative imagery from his crew.

The ensemble cast of Bram Stoker’s Dracula is really quite remarkable, as are some of the performances given. Gary Oldman steals the entire film as the Count in all his guises, be it caked in prosthetics as the older Count or one of his demonic forms or as the youthful prince. Oldman’ performance is commanding and utterly mesmeric, from heartfelt pathos to venomous menace on a dime and delivering possibly one of my favourite performances of his, he took a role that had previously been quite camp and silly and gave it true heart & soul. Some strong gravitas is offered by Anthony Hopkins as vampire hunter Van Helsing, a schizophrenic mix of grave seriousness one minute and dark, even childlike humour employed the next, it’s a fascinating turn. Some reliably strong support is given by the likes of Richard. E Grant, Cary Elwes and a wonderfully nuanced take on the deranged Renfield by musician Tom Waits. But it’s not all good, two of the principle cast REALLY let the side down on this production. First up, Winona Ryder. Ryder isn’t the worst thing about this film, her performance doesn’t make me want to eat my own face like the next culprit, she is however miscast I feel. Ryder feels completely out of sorts In this type of role and it is not suiting of her talents, her take on Mina is forgettable when it should be anything but. Getting to the real criminal of the piece, Keanu Reeves’ Jonathan Harker has to be up there as one of the worst movie miscasts of all time, he is excruciating to watch. Woefully out of his depth alongside the likes of Oldman, Hopkins & Grant who if anything magnify Reeves complete ineptitude in the role. His take on the English accent is something that is indelibly etched in the annals of film history, it is truly appalling, ranging from the poshest English accent you’ve ever heard and almost slipping into his Californian Ted drawl on a number of occasions, it’s like a great deal of his concentration is being taken over by trying not to go “Woah” after every shocking development, just awful.

Another star of this film that simply has to be applauded has to be the spine-chilling score from Polish composer Wojciech Kilar which is in my opinion one of the finest horror scores of the latter 20th century. Powerful, compelling, full of lust & longing like the old Count himself, it burns itself into the memory to become utterly unforgettable, well to me it did anyway. I am a record collector and managed to bag myself a very hard to come by copy of this on vinyl and it is outstanding in its power & presence, hair-raising in all the right places as any truly great horror score should be, a score fit for one of the greatest movie monsters of all time. The inclusion of Annie Lennox’s Love Song For A Vampire is also a welcome touch, complementing the classical score wonderfully, being a very touching and beautifully written piece of work in of itself.

I will always have a soft spot reserved in my heart for Bram Stoker’s Dracula, it may not be perfect but it is bold, brave and beautifully realised with an artfully minded approach to the source material that gave the world a truly unforgettable version of the Count that we’re all the richer for experiencing in my humble opinion. 

More Human: A Blade Runner 2049 review.

Directed by: Denis Villeneuve.

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Ana De Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, Robin Wright, Carla Juri, Lennie James, Dave Bautista, Jared Leto.

Plot: Continuing the story of Bladerunner, It’s the year 2049 and Replicants are now integrated into society thanks to the creation of the subservient Nexus 8. Tasked hunting down the remaining rouge replicants, a Bladerunner makes a discovery that could change everything.

The original 1982 Blade Runner is a masterpiece, one of the greatest science fiction movies ever committed to celluloid with a fanbase that speak of it with a reverence and adulation befitting of an all-time classic. When the announcement was made that a sequel was in the works, a mix of excitement & apprehension spread throughout the internet like wildfire, can a sequel even hold a candle to such a respected original?

With Blade Runner 2049, Denis Villeneuve has created something really quite remarkable, a science fiction sequel that is more than capable of sitting alongside its predecessor whilst also courting mainstream critical success. As with the original, Blade Runner 2049 is an astoundingly beautiful film. From the vibrant neon hue of LA to the washed out desolation of Las Vegas, it really is visually stunning, achingly so, I can not stress that enough. It looks like a Blade runner movie. The score, provided by Hans Zimmer & Benjamin Wallfisch is stunning and a worthy counterpart to the Vangelis original even dropping in a few cues from his score into the mix for fan pleasing effect. In IMAX it throbs and pulses in all the right places and totally immerses you in the world Villeneuve is creating. Yup, it sounds like a Blade runner movie too. I think it’s important to add at this point that this isn’t some facsimile of Ridley Scott’s film, there are stylistic similarities but 2049 can most certainly stand on its own merits. There is a slight issue with pacing in the opening hour or so of the film and some scenes do drag out a little longer than needed add to the already bulging run time but this is really one of the few things I can criticise the film for.

Blade Runner 2049 has some great performances under its belt. Ryan Gosling carries the main role of K with a deft hand and nuance that makes him a believable & likeable lead to carry us through the film’s considerable runtime and his onscreen romance with Ana de Armas’s hologram Joi, a sentient Siri if you will, is touching, warm and oddly real considering the artificiality at the heart of their union. Sylvia Hoek’s replicant enforcer Luv was another high point of the film, her intense and often terrifying delivery harks back to the reps of the original Blade Runner, a glimmer of Pris, a dollop of Leon but enough of her own contribution to avoid being pastiche. Harrison Ford delivers one of the best dramatic performances he has given in years, he is on fire in this film. He may turn up a little over half way through its running time but makes up for it in droves

Blade Runner 2049 has secured it place easily in the upper rings of my Top 10 of the year. Definitely in my Top 5, possibly Top 3, its that damn good! It tips it’s hat to the original without copying too many of its beats, it dazzles and beguiles with its peerless visual flare and feeds the noggin with some of the most intelligent science fiction in years. Is it better than Blade Runner? Of course not, that was never going to happen. Is it an immensely strong, damn near perfect companion piece? Your darn tootin it is. See this film ASAP, thank me later.

Send In The Clown: An IT review.

Directed by: Andy Muschetti.

Starring: Jaeden Lieberher, Bill Skarsgård, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Wyatt Oleff, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer.

Plot: The town of Derry, Maine has been plagued by the unexplained disappearances of its children every 27 years. When a group of 7 young outcasts find a connection to the disappearances, they are confronted by the manifestation of their worst fears.

The production history of the big screen adaptation of Stephen King’s IT has been a turbulent one, languishing in development hell since 2009 and going through no less that 3 directors & 2 Pennywise castings, the writing on the wall for this adaptation didn’t look good. With much of the world still viewing the story of IT through the rose-tinited goggles of nostalgia for the 1990 made for TV adaptation which starred the excellent Tim Curry as Pennywise, one of the only things that actually stands up to the test of time with that particular production but that’s a different blog post altogether.

So what of Muschetti’s IT? Well firstly, this is a great film, notice I didn’t just say great horror film? It is a great horror film, that much is self-evident pretty quickly into the films duration, It’s scares are effective and plentiful and it’s big bad is tremendously realised by Bill Skarsgård’s note perfect portrayal of interdimentional baddie Pennywise but this is also a great film in its own right, irrespective of genre. It’s superbly cast, well adapted and shot. It has a fantastic sense of time and place, the late 80’s vibe is stamped effectively with the fashion of the time, cinema posters and marquees for films like Batman & Beetlejuice and some superb choices in music are also employed featuring the likes of The Cure, Anthrax, XTC and The Replacements to name a few and a great reoccurring joke with one Losers love of New Kids On The Block confirm its late 80’s setting wonderfully. I have to say, this adaptation of IT puts the 1990 TV miniseries to shame, this is IT how it should be portrayed, no shoddy acting and dodgy pacing here, it’s taut, tense, well acted, frequently funny and pays an enormous amount of care in respecting the source material. 

The cast in IT are utterly fantastic, particularly the younger contingent who portray The Loser Club, the coming-of-age feel of their camaraderie locks in perfectly, Finn Wolfhard’s Richie being a consistent high point with his incessant and often hilarious wisecracking that stays on the right side of irritation for the film’s duration due in part to his fantastic sparring interplay with Jack Dylan Grazer’s Eddie. The most obvious of questions asked of IT is aimed at Bill Skarsgård’s Pennywise, just how does he stack alongside Tim Curry’s performance? I feel this question is like asking to compare Jack Nicholson’s & Heath Ledger’s Joker, they are both fantastic performances in their own right but are polar opposites and everyone is going to have their preference and I must say, possibly controversially, Skarsgård actually pips it for me. There is an almost childlike quality Skarsgård brings to the character which is as fascinating as it is disturbing, turning from seemingly innocent (well, for a clown in a drain anyway) to creepy to outright terrifying on a dime during the film’s opening 5 minutes, its nuanced, expertly so and an absolute joy to behold. There is a general feel that the character here is much more 3-Dimensional and well realised than Curry’s version, no disrespect to him, he was without doubt the best thing about the TV miniseries but as with Ledger’s Joker, this is on another level entirely.

I highly recommend you view IT. An 80’s kid is going to love it for its perfectly captured & conveyed nostalgia, an avid cinema-goer is going to love its Spielberg-esque coming-of-age camaraderie and horror fans, particularly Stephen King fans, are going to be very happy with its scares and obvious love & respect for its source material. This is how you handle a big screen adaptation, without a doubt the strongest horror offering of the year so far.

Learn Lynch!: The seedier side of directorial fandom.

During the months running up to Twin Peaks: The Return starting I decided to rewatch the first 2 seasons & FWWM, to introduce it to my wife & refresh the plot in my own head, I also decided to join a few discussion groups on social media to feed the buzz of the new season which was growing more palpable by the day. At first I thought it was an isolated incident, then I thought it was trolling when I observed it again, after awhile I noticed it to be a regular occurrence, people who described themselves as ardent David Lynch fans openly berating and belittling someone because they said that Lynch can be a little hard to follow. Now, I won’t deny this point in the slightest, if you’re not familiar with his work and don’t pay attention to the minutiae of what plays out in one of his films or tv shows, yes, it is very easy to find David Lynch hard to follow, he isn’t a director who’s output is massively accessible, a lot of his work is abstract and relies heavily on interpretation and investment on the viewers part. Now, does this mean that a person should be allowed to make another feel small because they don’t completely understand something in a Lynch piece? Hell no! 

Firstly, because someone doesn’t understand something doesn’t mean that they can’t appreciate it. You don’t see art critics berating someone because they don’t understand the symbolism in a painting or sculpture do you? The exact same principle applies here in my opinion. There is a nasty trend that I have observed amongst online fans of David Lynch who will spout some pseudo-intellectual guff about how people do not understand cinema because the person they are talking at (I would say talking to but that implies a two way discussion) didn’t understand a scene in Twin Peaks, they will then talk at length about what happened throwing a ridiculously convoluted and almost certainly incorrect theory into the works to boot just to make the other person feel even smaller. Call this ‘trolling’, ‘shit-posting’, whatever, its bullying plain and simple and it stinks. 

A fan will ask another fan for their thoughts and theories on a thing they mutually really dig, I get that, who doesn’t do that with something they love? What I don’t get is the horrid, hipsterish trend of stating how you have liked something longer than another person so you obviously understand it better. A post was made by someone to solely pick out people who didn’t watch Twin Peaks when it started and any of those people who jump on before The Return are just ‘millennials’ bandwagoning. Now, I see no problem whatsoever with someone catching up on something before a new and much touted series is about to start, but to berate someone who didn’t start to watch the show back in the early 90’s as a bandwagoner? That is ridiculous. I didn’t watch Twin Peaks for the first time until I was leaving secondary school, this would have probably been a good 6 or 7 years after Twin Peaks ended, does that affect my knowledge or appreciation of it? In no way whatsoever. There are people who may have only just got into Twin Peaks that may have picked up on facets I may have missed, which goes back to our own interpretation of it, our own appreciation of the work and viewing it subjectively as what it is widely considered to be, art. 

This is a trend I don’t see ending any time soon, if it’s not David Lynch it’ll be another directors art used as a weapon. I would say that these outlooks need to be challenged, as with all cases of bullying, it is not for one person to hold themselves higher than another because in some way they feel that they have the overriding answer to an artists work. In the words of Vanilla Ice, we should stop, collaborate and listen (I actually can’t believe I managed to bring Vanilla Ice into a David Lynch piece) because when a number of people with the same appreciation of one thing chip in their own perception of it in a constructive way, our collective appreciation can only grow.

Back In Style: A Twin Peaks- The Return review.

*ATTENTION* It is advised that you view the entirety of this season before reading the following review, some spoilers will feature as I delve into plot details. You have been warned.

Back in 2014 it was confirmed via Twitter by David Lynch that Twin Peaks would be returning to our screens, a story left on THAT cliffhanger back in 1991 would be continued and the internet rejoiced. We knew this was going to be something special, little did we know just how special it would turn out to be.

To summarise briefly under the assumption that in reading this you are aware of what transpired in prior seasons, Dale Cooper has been trapped in The Black Lodge for some 25 years whilst his doppelgänger, imbued with an evil spirit who goes by the name of BOB, has taken his place in our reality and gone AWOL after the events of the season 2 finale. A series of events lead to Dale coming back to our reality at the cost of his own mind, taking the persona of a lawyer called Dougie Jones who for some reason resembles Cooper. Back in Twin Peaks, Deputy Hawk receives a phone call from The Log Lady that’s sets him on Cooper’s path whilst Gordon & Albert at the FBI pursue their own investigation.

The first thing that struck me with this season of Twin Peaks was just how much influence Lynch has held over the development this time round as opposed to his comparatively meagre input into the prior season. It becomes quite clear in the first handful of episodes, particularly the highly regarded 8th episode, of Lynch’s creative input in full control. This season if anything was a true showcase of Lynch being allowed to create without boundaries, without someone to hold him back through fear of people not understanding or wanting him to dumb down his vision and I would myself regard parts of The Return, particularly that aforementioned 8th episode as some of his best work to date. David Lynch has arguably worked at his best without outside interference, to be allowed to create his art without having to answer for it. When you juxtapose this season against season 2, with Lynch’s minimal input for a large section of the season, the show meandered, it became almost soap-opera-like, banal in its relative normality. Season 3 in comparison is Lynch unleashed and it is glorious.

We were this season given new facets to the Twin Peaks story to wrap our heads around, the otherworldly mother figure, Jowday (The Judy that David Bowie’s Philip Jeffries wasn’t going to talk about in FWWM) that apparently gave birth to BOB, a terrifying apparition that on our first encounter with, literally tore people’s faces off. We also got to see quite lengthy glimpses, particularly in the aforementioned 8th episode, of the various lodge inhabitants or at the very least, denizens of that plane of existence. We saw our first real glimpse of what we can assume to be The White Lodge, inhabited by The Fireman & Seniorita Dido, The Fireman of course resembling The Giant from the original series though not billed as such who appears to be The White Lodge’s equivalent of Jowday, birthing what appears to be Laura Palmer and sending her essence to Earth, Laura possibly being a cosmic counterbalance to BOB of sorts following the cataclysmic atomic detonation that seemly opened the respective gateway’s between worlds. The other perplexing new characters are The Woodsmen, dark skinned apparitions in disheveled clothing that also appeared around the time of the atomic detonation and seem to have some kind of connection to The Black Lodge, heralds if you will who appear to be a reimagining of a character briefly glimpsed in FWWM played by Jurgan Prochnow in Laura’s dream sequence. The Return also brings the use of tulpas into Twin Peaks mythology with the characters of Dougie Jones and the person who everyone believed to be Dianne actually both being tulpas or constructs.

For the most part and it will certainly help if you are familiar with Lynch’s writing style, The Return is, as with a lot of Lynch’s past work, heavily left open to viewer interpretation, there is minimal hand-holding in The Return and the hardcore Lynch faithful wouldn’t have it any other way, though, a number of story strands are left unexplained or up in the air. What happened to Audrey? It isn’t addressed in the finale so we have no idea of her situation. Also, Sarah Palmer rather dramatically removed her face toward the end of the season to reveal a dark void and a rather sinister smile before ripping out a truckers throat in a bar, we do briefly see Sarah Palmer in the finale although her prior conduct was never readdressed. The season was also left on another massive cliffhanger with Coop & Laura/Carrie outside the Palmer/Tremond residence in Twin Peaks as Laura screamed and everything cut to black. It’s already known in Peaks lore that the Tremonds are connected to the Lodges, are the Black Lodge denizens attempting to track Laura? Have they found her? Whether these things have been left in the air deliberately with the intent of another season to answer them remains to be seen, they are rather perplexing questions to leave up in the air with the possibility of never being answered though.

The Return sees many actors from the original series making an appearance. Kyle MacLachlan is phenomenal this season, predominantly split between the roles of Cooper/Dougie & Cooper’s doppelgänger, Dopple-Coop is all brooding and bass-ass with the constant threat of violence hanging over any scene he is in, Dougie couldn’t be anymore different. A hugely sympathetic and humorous turn, Dougie Jones, a lawyer who resembles Cooper and who’s persona Cooper employs for the majority of the season. A monosyllabic savant guided by the other place to Cooper’s salvation, Dougie has been a constant high point of the season. Lynch’s Gordon Cole has also been a season highlight alongside his note perfect partnership with the late great Miguel Ferrer as Albert Rosenfeld, the two bounce of other perfectly, Gordon’s abject oddness being the perfect foil to Alberts quiet, surrendering incredulity, the sense Albert has had to deal with this kinda shit for years and now he just succumbs to it. Some great guest turns have been thrown out this season also from the likes of Laura Dern as the bristling & acerbic Dianne, finally a psychical presence and not just a name spoken into a dictaphone. Some noteworthy turns are also given by original series OG’s Harry Goaz, David Patrick Kelly, Russ Tamblyn and Dana Ashbrooke alongside new faces such as Jim Belushi, Naomi Watts, Matthew Lillard and Sara Paxton.

As with the prior two seasons, music plays a big part in Twin Peaks so it was with some degree of relief to learn that composer Angelo Badalamenti returns to score this season alongside a ridiculously rich and diverse lineup of musical talent ranging from contemporary acts like Chromatics, Sharon Van Etten and Lissie alongside the more recognisable faces of Eddie Vedder and Nine Inch Nails as artists appearing onstage at The Roadhouse’s ‘Bang, Bang Bar’ music nights. For the most part the musical guests have been great and very well curated, I for one will be picking up a copy of this seasons soundtrack when the record comes out for sure.

Newcomers to Twin Peaks will be thoroughly bewildered by The Return and will have probably given up a few episodes in, for the faithful however, this has been a stunning return to form for the show as The Return took us in surprising & mind-bending directions. With every twist & turn it retained the charm of the first 2 seasons whilst presenting a much darker story that didn’t feel as cosy in its oddness as the Twin Peaks of old. The Return carried a much more sinister atmosphere throughout this entire season and it has been an absolute joy to behold, every barking, mind-boggling, brain-f**king second of it. If Twin Peaks is destined to return yet again for a 4th season, it remains to be seen, both Lynch and Showtime have remained stoically tight lipped on the subject. The fact that we even got The Return remains a miracle in of itself,  I wasn’t really expecting an all story strands resolved conclusion to the story to be forthcoming, if ever. Although I’m sure many people will, I don’t believe It’s really our place to criticise what Lynch has created here because as with most things the man has created, it is art, pure and simple, it’s there to be interpreted, not to spoonfeed you answers and give you exactly what you want, what we did get however, I am more than happy with. 

A Bad Apple?: A Death Note (2017) review.

Directed by: Adam Wingard.

Starring: Nat Wolff, Lakeith Stanfield, Margaret Qualley, Shea Whigham, Willem Dafoe.

Plot: A teenage boy comes across a black note book that gives him the power to take the life of anyone who’s name is written in its pages. Crafting himself a godlike alter-ego, it isn’t long before the authorities and a young and gifted private investigator are on his trail.

Alarm bells were ringing quite early for me when this film was announced, not necessarily because it was a remake, I’m not really one for jumping on the judgement bandwagon when it comes to remakes. I was also not really concerned that it was being bankrolled by Netflix, they have been securing themselves some fine films of late, some I have really enjoyed and favourably reviewed. Not even because of the anime it was based on, I have watched some of it and it is excellent but live action counterparts more often than not end up being entirely different beasts, I knew this was going to be the case here so didn’t jump the gun fretting here either. No, it came more from being a fan of the live action Japanese originals and seeing that the film had been gifted to the director of last years atrocious Blair Witch. You may remember I named him back then as ‘some hack’, his name is Adam Wingard, he’s earned a namecheck for his skill now in my opinion.

I’ll start by saying that Death Note isn’t completely the god awful mess it could have quite easily been. I felt initially it wasn’t in safe hands and I feel I had just cause to be reticent considering, but director Wingard has made a bold and noteworthy effort with Death Note. The film is stylish, tailored for a late teenage audience with its carefully curated soundtrack, suitably angsty subject matter and OTT gory death scenes. It is beautifully shot to give Wingard his dues, it looks the business and the expensively CG Ryuk is easily the most spot on thing about the film, from his appearance to the perfectly cast Willem Dafoe on mo-cap and vocal duties. The rest of the cast deliver admirably, Wingard coaxing some decent performances across the board, I particularly liked Lakeith Stanfield’s nuanced take on super-sleuth L. This is unfortunately where all praise ends.

This adaptation of Death Note isn’t written well at all and suffers quite badly from trying to cram too much badly conveyed story into its 100 minute run time, It really feels shoehorned to meet a deadline and it is painfully noticeable. Also, the character of Light is pretty off the mark from the anime & films. Prior, he was a cool, calculating sociopath and a worthy foil to L, in this film he shrieks like a little girl when he first encounters Ryuk, it is massively out of character.  The back and forth between L & Light which was so central to the anime & original live action versions also feels as though it has been either badly handled or completely misinterpreted altogether here, that feel of cat & mouse is almost entirely absent. There have been some changes to the story also and it does feel that with the narrative changes that have been made in this version of Death Note that it is being squarely catered toward a western audience and not necessarily one that was familiar with the original source material in the first place, these changes don’t necessarily feel like they suit any kind of thematic purpose, they just feel narratively lazy, cliched and thrown together which is a pity as Wingard and his cast really did some fine work on this film only to be let down by the writers and the immensity cynical production. A shame.

Death Note is currently available to stream via Netflix.