With each film, British director Ben Wheatley seems to adopt that Monty Python adage: ‘And now for something completely different.’ From gangster movie to cult hitman thriller, to caravan comedy murder rampage, to psychedelic civil war freakout, to bullet-by-bullet shootout, to dysfunctional family comedy, the man behind Kill List, Sightseers, Free Fire and more now finds himself at a gothic romance, adapting a new version of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. It’s an almost-ghost story that has inspired all sorts films (especially Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak) and was, most famously, previously adapted by none other than Alfred Hitchcock. But Wheatley’s take looks like something new. Watch the full trailer.
Stylish and spooky in equal measure, Wheatley’s Rebecca casts Armie Hammer as Maxim de Winter, the handsome widower, with Lily James as his new wife Mrs de Winter, who finds herself unable to escape the lingering spectre of Maxim’s dead ex-wife Rebecca. And stirring the pot is Kristin Scott Thomas, as the menacing Mrs. Danvers. It looks like a lavish production with Wheatley leaning fully into the period trappings – though this is no fusty costume drama. There’s a visual vibrancy here, particularly in the early loved-up scenes, contrasting with the eerie air of Maxim’s mansion house, Manderley.
“I wanted to make something that had more love in it,” Wheatley told Empire recently – of which you can read more in the Dune issue, on sale now. “It’s part of trying to investigate other parts of being human. Rebecca has dark elements, and it has a psychological, haunting story within it, but it’s also about these two people in love. That was the main thing.” Wheatley’s adaptation of Rebecca comes to Netflix on 21 October.