Death Note is a hugely successful Japanese manga-turned-anime-turned-movie. Written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata, the story was first published in December 2003, and that initial run spawned 108 chapters that were published over three years.
Death Note revolves around Light Yagami, a student who stumbles across a mysterious notebook that has the power to kill any person whose name is written in it. Light is encouraged to use the book by a Shinigami death spirit called Ryuk, while a mysterious detective called ‘L’ endeavours to stop him.
The story was turned into an anime in 2006, while several live-action films also followed in Japan. And now America is getting in on the act, with Netflix releasing a U.S. adaptation on August 25, and FANDOM hosting a U.K. screening of the film during FrightFest.
But what if you can’t wait until then? Or loved the manga and anime and want more similarly themed horror? Well FANDOM has your back, as the following are five films to watch if you love Death Note…
Richard Kelly’s first film – Donnie Darko – has much in common with Death Note, being about an angst-ridden teenager taking advice from a seemingly supernatural creature. But his third film – The Box – could legitimately take place in the same universe. Loosely based on Richard Matheson short story ‘Button Button’ – which itself was turned into a 1986 Twilight Zone episode – the film stars Cameron Diaz and James Marsden as a couple that are struggling financially. Then a box appears on their doorstep, followed by a mysterious stranger who tells them that if they press the button inside the box they will receive $1m. But someone they don’t know will die. They press the button, then things turn weird, and confusing, and a bit messy when the film tries to tie up all its loose ends. But it’s a compelling set-up that – like Death Note – asks complicated moral questions of both its characters, and the audience.
When you see some of the early kills in the new Death Note movie, you’ll know why we’ve picked Final Destination. It also happens to be one of the best horror franchises of the last two decade, so if you haven’t watched any of the FD movies, remedy that now! The first film concerns a group of American school kids boarding a flight to Paris. But then one of them has a premonition that their plane will explode. He panics, a fight breaks out, they miss their flight, and that explosion takes the plane down. But their survival displeases ‘death’ and so they are picked off – one-by-one – via a series of seeming accidents. The films are a blast, the kills becoming ever-more gory and elaborate, ending with a brilliant final entry that might be the best of the bunch.
Night of the Demon
While Death Note might not be about a cursed item exactly, the book nevertheless brings Light pain and misery. And Night of the Demon – aka Cult of the Demon in the States – is about a parchment that kills those that have it in their possession. Dana Andrews plays a psychologist investigating Julian Karswell (Nial MacGinnis), a creepy doctor who may or may not be head of a satanic cult. Either way, those who criticise him invariably end up dead, so there’s something going on. And that something involves witchcraft, seances, and a gigantic demon that materialises at the most inopportune moments.
Ringu is a Japanese horror from from 1998 that’s SCARY AS HELL. Based on the novel of the same name by Koji Suzuki, the film revolves around a cursed video tape that kills the viewer seven days after watching it. Reiko Asakawa plays a journalist investigating the history of the tape, and what she uncovers is both disturbing and heartbreaking. But it’s the terrifying imagery that turns Ringu into a classic, from the contents of that video to a young girl with long black hair crawling out of a TV to the resulting faces twisted in fear. The film made such an impact that it spawned a bunch of sequels and similarly themed copycat movies, while the 2002 American remake – which starred Naomi Watts – was nearly as good as the original.
While Monster has little in common with Death Note when it comes to story, the two are connected via style and tone. The 162 chapters of Monster were published between 1994 and 2001, and concerned Dr. Kenzo Tenma, a Japanese brain surgeon working in Dusseldorf. When he treats a young boy with a gunshot wound to his head, strange things start to happen to Tenma, most notably the doctors senior to him mysteriously dying, paving the way for him to become Chief of Surgery. A chance meeting with that same boy 10 years later sends Tenma down a dark path involving bad things happening in an East German orphanage. Monster was adapted into a 74-episode animated series – which we’re calling a film for the purposes of this feature – while Guillermo Del Toro pitched a live-action version to HBO. Which they ultimately turned down. So if Death Note proves a success, maybe Netflix will take a chance on the property.
Death Note hits Netflix on August 25.