With Blair Witch out in theaters this weekend, many horror fans will be flocking to the multiplex to see the remake but they are all likely going for different reasons. Some may have seen the trailer and were moved by that experience. Others might simply be fans of the franchise, despite the fact that Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 was the last official dispatch from this particular series. And still others, like myself, will show up because of the name of the man who directed the film, Adam Wingard.
Wingard has quickly built a name for himself in the current American independent film movement. He worked closely with Joe Swanberg as a DP and cameraman, and in 2013, he released his breakout feature, You’re Next, one of the most thrilling horror films to be released this decade. He followed that up quickly with 2014’s exceptional The Guest, an ode to John Carpenter featuring a delightful, diabolical performance by Dan Stevens. Wingard would have been in the horror history books just for that but now, he’s in the middle of production on his follow-up to Blair Witch, an adaptation of the Death Note anime/manga series for Netflix.
During an interview for Blair Witch with our very own Steven Weintraub, Wingard opened up a bit about what we should be expecting from his take on Death Note. The director described Blair Witch as a more mainstream horror film whereas he feels that Death Note brings him back into the realm of the weird, and he quickly likened the film’s tone to that of The Guest. And when asked about how Netflix’s lack of a rating system would influence how bloody Death Note will get, Wingard immediately eased everyone’s minds. Here’s what he told Steve:
“We can do whatever we want. That was the cool thing about it, because it’s an anime film. So, technically, it’s a cartoon that you’re bring to life. To me, the thing about anime is that it’s so adult-oriented. I remember going to Suncoast growing up and you see Akira there with the little “Not for Kids” sticker on it. That always made an impact on me. So, doing my first live-action anime thing, to me it was important that you have those adult themes. So, it’s got nudity, it’s got swearing, it’s got a ton of violence. Jason Eisener, who did Hobo with a Shotgun. I brought him on – I’m good friends with him – as second-unit director. There’s basically like three good Jason Eisner short films in there and they’re all very gory. I was able to just turn him loose sometime, and just do some crazy stuff.”
It’s interesting to hear that Eisener has been working so closely with Wingard on this film. Hobo with a Shotgun succeeded where so many other films like it have failed specifically because of the sense of invention that permeates throughout even its most gory sequences, of which there are quite a few. Wingard is also remarkable for the sense of imagination that can be felt in each one of his features, and how he gives his films a distinct visual style that most horror films see as frivolous. For these reasons alone, Death Note sounds more enticingly batshit and bloody than ever before.
Netflix will release Death Note sometime in 2017. Look for Steve’s full interview with Wingard and writer Simon Barrett tomorrow.