The first American adaptation of Death Note is moving forward with a new director, reports Tracking Board. The honors go to Gus Van Sant, the twice Oscar-nominated director of Good Will Hunting, Milk, Finding Forrester (totally underrated, dawg), My Own Private Idaho, and the shot-for-shot remake of Psycho that I forget about for long stretches of time and then remember and get totally confused about all over again. (How and why did that happen???)
Death Note has already been made into an anime, two live-action films, video games, and other Japanese media based on the manga written by Tsugumi Ohba with art by Takeshi Obata. In the manga, a high schooler finds a notebook belonging to a “death god” named Ryuk. Writing someone’s name in the book will kill that person via odd supernatural means, extending Ryuk’s life. The high schooler uses it to kill people he considers to be evil, while an Interpol detective tries to track down whoever is killing criminals. Being a manga, it just gets weirder from there.
Warner’s English language version of Death Note has been in development for quite some time. Shane Black (writer/director of Iron Man 3 and the writer of Monster Squad and other cool sh*t) was attached to direct as recently as last year, but he dropped out and is now working on Doc Savage and a Predator sequel. The most recent Death Note script was penned by Shane Black along with Anthony Bagarozzi and Charles Mondry.
Gus Van Sant might seem like an odd choice for a movie about a high schooler trying to create a utopia by supernaturally killing criminals, but his filmography shows that he does have experience in making films about troubled adolescents. We only hope they don’t take too much of Shane Black’s influence out of the script; the dude knows how to write morbid humor into well-paced action scenes…