Fraser Johnston’s review published on Letterboxd:
Before I continue this review I have to confess that I have never watched nor read the original "Death Note". This is a disclaimer stating that I am looking at this film objectively, basing my analysis solely on this film rather than the legacy that has came before. I am aware of the controversy regarding the whitewashing of its source material. I did however, enjoy this film. I have been impressed with Adam Wingard's career to date (except Blair Witch), "You're Next" and "The Guest" are two fantastic genre pieces demonstrating Wingard's talent as a storyteller and a filmmaker. The elements of these films are clearly present in "Death Note", the electrotechnical, heart-thumping soundtrack (Atticus Ross of "The Social Network" fame), the neon lights and the blend of action and horror. All these meld together with the focus on character. The story is an example of wish fulfilment as our main character Light comes into possession of the powerful death note. Whoever's name is written in the book, dies a horrible death of the author's choosing. During this, Light comes face-to-face with the Death God Ryuk (voiced by Willem Defoe) who goes onto manipulate Light as he goes on a crusade to right the wrongs of the world followed by devastating consequences. The problem with this film produced by Netflix is that there is too much material to be condensed into a single-feature. Normally this would not be a problem but given Netflix's history of creative freedom. It begs the question, why not make this into a series rather than a film? This means that you are able to delve deeper into the story and each character while developing the mystery behind the Death Note. At the heart of the story in between the final destination-like death sequences, is a teen drama. The story of teen angst feels all-too-familiar as Light falls for Mia while mourning the death of his mother and connecting to his father. The film is exciting and a further step forward in the right direction for Netflix as this would normally have been passed by many film studios. Although it doesn't reach the great heights of "The Guest" and "You're Next", Adam Wingard has proven that he is a director with a bright future in Hollywood.