‘Rebecca’: the real horror of the Netflix film

A Netflix thriller film,

Netflix [Fair Use]

A Netflix thriller film, “Rebecca” is based on the novel, under the same title, written by Daphne du Maurier.

Katy Chen, Staff Writer

Netflix’s 2020 adaptation of the novel “Rebecca,” written by Daphne du Maurier, had stunning visuals and a picturesque European setting but fell flat in all other aspects.

The film’s psycho-thriller and romantic aspects were largely conveyed through its cinematography and music, but it utterly failed in transcending to the level of ingeniousness of its original counterpart also known as “Rebecca,” directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Besides the horribly written characters, the movie’s plot was confusing and all over the place and did not keep me captivated for the entire two hours. The film presented itself as a beautiful mansion but was filled with nothing but beige walls.

The story begins with Lily James’ character, known only as Mrs. de Winter, fulfilling her duties as a lady’s companion to an obnoxious, American socialite, Mrs. Van Hopper. The young, naive heroine quickly falls in love with the recently widowed and handsome Maxim de Winter (Armie Hammer), a character with an abundance of secrets, as well as wealth. After a quick marriage, the couple moves to Mr. de Winter’s mansion, Manderley; however, the mansion seems to be haunted by an unknown past and secrets, including Mr. de Winter’s late wife, Rebecca. 

Throughout the film, Mrs. de Winters tries to fill the shoes of a good housewife and live up to the standards of the late Rebecca, but is constantly undermined and shamed by those around her in Manderley, particularly the head housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers. Although James’ and Hammer’s acting wasn’t terrible, the horribly written characters did not showcase their talents. Because of the poor character development, I did not feel a connection to the characters or the film itself. It is not until the last thirty minutes of the film that anything of slight interest began to happen, and the extremely predictable plot twists are revealed. 

In complete honesty, a majority of the film felt like a fever dream. Though I am someone who can normally find some redeeming qualities in even the trashiest of movies, “Rebecca” was a complete atrocity on so many levels. The film’s plot was extremely scattered, had no clear direction and was filled with plot holes. With a love-struck, naive girl who becomes completely submissive to her spouse and a handsome, mysterious rich man with a dark past and secrets, the film failed to portray any respectable character development for the protagonists or any likable characters in general.

“Rebecca” is another film that romanticizes toxic relationships, gaslighting and mental manipulation. It showcases a clearly problematic storyline used in many films todaya submissive, love-struck wife who would do anything for the one she “loves,” someone who is clearly a toxic and manipulative lover, only desirable because he is handsome and rich. Sound familiar? The industry’s constant use and marketing of this storyline exposes many young women, and even young men, to this toxic dynamic of love, glorifying manipulation and gaslighting in relationships.

Netflix’s “Rebecca” exemplifies a clear problem in the industry through the pernicious topics it chooses to market to audiences and goes to show that not every great story can be made or remade into a cinematic masterpiece.