Netflix today unveiled the first images of its upcoming 2020 adaptation of Rebecca, a psychological romantic thriller based on Daphne du Maurier’s 1938 novel of the same name. Famously adapted by Alfred Hitchcock in 1940 in a film that won Best Picture at the Academy Awards, this version of Rebecca will star Armie Hammer and Lily James as Maxim de Winter and “the second Mrs. de Winter,” respectively. The Netflix film is currently scheduled for Oct. 21, 2020, with a proximity to Halloween that will be appropriate for the story’s gothic themes. Rebecca is not truly a full-on horror film, but that didn’t stop us from previously recognizing it as the best horror film of 1940 in our 100-part Century of Terror series last year.
Hitchcock’s original film is a masterpiece of tension and paranoia, in which the young and naive “second Mrs. de Winter,” played by Joan Fontaine, gets swept up in a whirlwind romance with the dashing Maxim de Winter, played by the impeccably cool Laurence Olivier. Marrying quickly, without hesitation, the second Mrs. de Winter only begins to realize she may be in over her head after returning to de Winter’s stately mansion Manderley, where she is ceaselessly compared to de Winter’s previous, beloved (and now deceased) wife Rebecca. Sometimes described as a “ghost story without a ghost,” Rebecca examines the second Mrs. de Winter’s struggles against a setting in which she is constantly being gaslit and found lacking.
This new version of Rebecca, meanwhile, is directed by Ben Wheatley, well known for violent psychological mind-benders such as Kill List, Sightseers and A Field in England. It does seem the proper choice for another adaptation of the same source material, even if it will be very hard to avoid the Hitchcock comparisons. James, for her part, has said she expects the film to be “very different,” and stated that she experienced panic attacks getting into the character’s headspace.
In the photos below, one can see James apparently arriving at Manderley, and sporting with Hammer, although the more portentous image is of her alongside actress Kristin Scott Thomas playing the icy housekeeper Mrs. Danvers. We can only imagine what Mrs. Danvers might be whispering in this particular sequence to our fragile ingenue, but come October, all will be revealed. We’ll keep an eye out for a first trailer for Rebecca in the meantime. Check out the new photos below.