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REVIEW: Rebecca is one of the best thrillers Netflix has ever released

By Rory Cashin

October 15, 2020 at 4:59am

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Netflix has given us a great thriller to enjoy this October.

You'd want to be fairly ballsy to remake Rebecca.

Alfred Hitchcock's 1940 take on the story went on to win Best Picture at the Oscars (his only movie to win this award), as well as being nominated for ten more Academy Awards that year. It is constantly in conversation whenever the topic of Greatest Movies Of All Time comes up, and Judith Anderson's portrayal of Mrs. Danvers is generally considered to be one of the best cinematic villains ever.

Then there's the fact that Hitchcock remakes in general - from Psycho, to A Perfect Murder, to Disturbia (kind of) - tend to just not be very good. So for director Ben Wheatley (Kill List, Free Fire, High-Rise) and writer Jane Goldman (Kick-Ass, Kingsman, X-Men: First Class) to take it on, yeah, fairly ballsy.

Thankfully the risk has paid off, as Rebecca is the most handsomely produced, moodily effective thriller that Netflix has ever had a hand in.

Set against the lush backdrop of the French Riviera in the late 1930s, naive personal assistant (Lily James) accidentally manages to catch the eye of rich, recently widowed Maxim de Winter (Armie Hammer), and after a whirlwind romance, the two get married and he brings her back to his huge English country estate home. The new Mrs. de Winter is soon introduced to all of Maxim's house staff, including Mrs. Danvers (Kristin Scott Thomas), who seems to take an immediate dislike to Maxim's new bride.

The details of the original Mrs. de Winter's demise have been kept private, but the more information that is revealed, the more the new Mrs. de Winter begins to feel like she can never match up, and it isn't long before she begins to suspect her new husband may have had an active hand in his first wife's death.

It is a classic, Hitchcockian murder-mystery set up, with a trio of great characters for these fantastic actors to sink their teeth into, all tied together with Goldman's trail-of-breadcrumbs teasing of new plot details, and Wheatley's equal parts gorgeous and chilly direction.

For anyone unaware of the original adaptation, or the classic book these movies originates from, you might think you know almost immediately the direction the story is going to go in - we guarantee you'll declare ten minutes in that you know who did what, and why they did it - but you'll be wrong.

It isn't perfect, with one too many scenes involving people getting themselves into turmoil by not being direct about something, most likely prompting you to scream at the screen "Just say it!", but still, these are minor niggles.

Rebecca may seem to newbies of this particular mystery that it borrows liberally from decades of mysteries gone by (despite likely being the actual influence to the majority of them), but the dark tangents this story takes are still a surprise, even 80 years on.

Rebecca will be available to watch on Netflix from Wednesday, October 21. Check out the trailer right here:

READ NEXT: These are the ten best hidden gem movies on Netflix

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