Netflix’s Death Note Trailer and analysis: what works and what doesn’t

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Not so long ago I re-posted a piece discussing adaptations, particularly focusing on Japanese properties. 

Today, in a totally surprising move, Netflix released the first teaser trailer for Death Note, the long awaited American adaptation of the manga from Tsugubi Ohba and Takeshi Obata.

You can watch the trailer below:

Now, I’m familiar with the story since I read the manga until a very crucial point. 

Anyways, the trailer is not that long, and in theory there wouldn’t be much to discuss. Yet, I think there is. 

First off, I couldn’t help but notice that the image is not that cinematic. I’ll explain: it clearly looks fake and I never had my disbelief suspended for a moment. You might think this is a really bad thing, and in some way it is, yet I have the feeling that there has been no color correction applied to the image, if not some temporary one. This could explain why the Death Note looks extremely like a prop and not a notebook. 

I’m not crazy also about the stylized ‘Death Note’ written on it. It again looks too fake, not mysterious, rather a joke. Also the font used to write the rules is clearly fake. Handwriting could give a creepy mysterious aura, so far absent. 

Than, we have a guy walking down a corridor lighten by red neons. That is probably L, and it seems they’re taking inspiration from Mr. Robot for Keith Stanfield’s portrayal. 

The teen setting was obvious to me, I envision it when the movie was first announced. It probably was the only setting possible. Or, better, the only one that would make sense in order to have a faithful american adaptation.

Of course, the film takes place in the U.S., not Japan. More specifically we found ourselves in Seattle. Again, this was also obvious.

Last, but certainly not the least, we have Light’s look. Played by Nat Wolff,  one that has been tied to teen roles since he started his career (or almost), the make up, while still not yet elaborated, looks creepy enough and it clearly gives us the outcast feeling. 

The only thing missing in this trailer is Ryuk. While visually I don’t think will be too different from the anime/manga iteration, hearing Willem Dafoe creepy voice was good enough to be optimistic.

Death Note will be out on Netflix on August 25th, 2017. It stars Nat Wolff, Keith Stanfield, Willem Dafoe, Margaret Qualley. 


Post Author: Luca Ripamonti

Filmmaker of 23 years old, gamer since the dawn of time. Crazy about football (the real one), basketball and pro-wrestling.