Netflix has gotten a Lot of mileage out of luring some fairly splashy directors under its tent. But the fact is, most of them haven’t done their best work for the anti-studio. Yet.
The latest is Adam Wingard, the promising young genre stylist behind You’re Next and The Guest. Death Note, his first film for the deep-pocketed streaming service, is a slick, silly swing and a miss. Nat Wolff (the winning third wheel from The Fault in Our Stars) plays a high school outcast named Light Turner, who comes into possession of a supernatural book that gives its owner the power to kill anyone whose name he or she writes in its parchment pages. Aided by the tome’s fiendish mascot, a porcupine-quilled beastie with a rictus grin and the cackling voice of Willem Dafoe, Light begins his God-complex descent into darkness by offing the school bully, then the guy who killed his mom, then scores of random scumbags. The whole thing feels like the pilot episode of a third-rate comic-book vigilante TV show.
Aside from a nicely eccentric supporting turn from Get Out’s Lakeith Stanfield as a brainiac on Light’s tail, there’s very little that’s original in this Netflix original. C