Thursday night at the New York premiere of Netflix’s new horror film “Death Note,” held at AMC Loews Lincoln Square, director Adam Wingard told Variety that as a filmmaker working with the streaming giant, “the fact that you don’t have to worry about the opening weekend is a nice thing.”
Wingard is both a fast-rising star of the horror genre, having directed acclaimed spookers like “You’re Next” and “The Guest,” as well as an avid horror film watcher, and he acknowledges that one of the trade-offs of working with Netflix is knowing that theaters full of strangers won’t be getting scared by his film at the same time. “I think you’re always going to lose something with it not being in theaters,” he said. “But at the end of the day, almost all my favorite movies are not movies I saw first run in the theaters.”
He added that bypassing theaters is “not that big of a deal. We still approached it if we were making a big, theatrical film. The movie is mixed in that kind of way, and shot in that way,” he said. “It’s interesting, it’s not the type of film that would have gotten made at this budget if it was a theatrical film.”
The film is an adaptation of a popular Japanese manga about a young man who finds a supernatural notebook that allows him to kill anyone whose name he writes down. Nat Wolff plays the notebook’s owner, Light. Wolff, who previously starred in the Nickelodeon series “The Naked Brothers Band” and the John Green adaptations “The Fault in Our Stars” and “Paper Towns,” told Variety he was excited for his first horror film. “This is the first movie where I’ve reacted to things that aren’t there,” he said. “And in this case, I jumped into it with a nine-foot tall demon god.”
That nine-foot demon is Ryuk, a death god voiced by Willem Dafoe. He took the role, he said, because he’s worked with Wolff before, and “sometimes it’s fun to do a voice.”
He added, “You can be anything. You look at the picture and think, ‘What would this guy sound like?’ Then you put yourself in the scenes and then you don’t go to a traditional psychological place. You can go some place else.”
“Death Note” bows Aug. 25 on Netflix.