Death Note became an international hit for a lot more than its high concept premise (a high schooler comes into possession of a book that kills anyone whose name is written in it). It’s the execution of Tsugumi Ohba’s bleak vision of the world that elevates the manga. Light, the protagonist, isn’t exactly a saint, and the story is rooted in the paranoias of death and unchecked power. It’s a tonally complicated story, but Adam Wingard knows a thing or two about balancing a riot of tones to perfection.
Wingard’s upcoming film adaptation of Death Note for Netflix has released its first teaser, and it’s clear that Wingard at least has a solid handle on the bleary darkness, to say nothing of those Guest-style neon flourishes throughout. Whether he can recapture the moral complexities of the source material remains to be seen, but it’s in capable hands. Plus, there’s that brief first look at Willem Dafoe’s take on Ryuk, the shinigami who introduces chaos to the world out of sheer boredom, and it’s an unsettling tease for what’ll hopefully be an effective character design.
The film will also star Lakeith Stanfield as the detective L, and Nat Wolff as Light Turner, the young man who causes unimaginable trouble after coming into possession of the notebook. Netflix will release Death Note on August 25th, surely allowing for a new generation of manga-loving high schoolers to discover their new favorite thing.