Adam Wingard’s new Blair Witch is a straight-up horror movie, but he will be veering away from strict genre filmmaking for his Netflix adaptation of the gothic manga/anime Death Note. Instead, Wingard is making Death Note a mash-up of other genres, likening it to his previous film The Guest.
“If I was going to compare it to anything else I’ve done, it’s way less like Blair Witch and it’s more like The Guest,” Wingard told Inverse in a phone interview adding that Death Note will be “more gonzo and genre-bending” than just horror.
It’s not that Death Note will lack scares either. “It does have moments we play up in a horror kind of way,” he explained. “[Death Note is] the ultimate mish-mash film because of the different things you can do with the Death Note, the different types of kills, and the different characters in that world.”
First published as a manga in 2003, Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata’s Death Note is about genius high school student Light Yagami (Light Turner in Wingard’s film) who comes into possession of the Death Note, a supernatural notebook powered by the Japanese gods of death, the Shinigami. Light uses the Death Note to kill criminals he deems too awful to live, kicking off an investigation by authorities always one step behind Light and his Shinigami companion, Ryuk. Although there are demons and supernatural forces aplenty, Death Note is also an international crime story as well as a dark coming-of-age drama.
“It’s important to constantly mix-up your work and not push yourself in one direction or the other,” Wingard said. “The danger for us [directors] would be if we kept doing straight horror movies, I’d get labeled as a horror filmmaker and that’s what I would get offered. My ambitions are bigger than that. Especially if you have seen The Guest, you can see my influences range from horror to sci-fi to action, all those kinds of things and everything in between.”
Wingard says Death Note’s mix of the occult and gritty crime lets him pursue other genres while keeping things familiar. “Just like The Guest, there is every kind of sub-genre mixed in [Death Note]. It’s a bit more of a return to form for me.”
In a separate Reddit AMA, Wingard also said his Death Note will stray from “overt anime style” seen in films like Speed Racer and Dragonball: Evolution. “With Death Note I tried to give it a gritty, lived-in look. With that said Death Note is going to be my most insane movie yet. It makes The Guest look conventional.”
Adam Wingard’s Death Note is set to premiere on Netflix in 2017.