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Netflix’s creepy new movie Reptile looks perfect for True Detective fans

Published Sep 8th, 2023 5:22PM EDT
Reptile on Netflix
Image: Netflix

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Seven days before director Grant Singer’s sixth birthday, his uncle was murdered. The death left him with a profound unease and an understanding that tragedy can strike at any moment — and that, in an America saturated with violent crime, clean answers are almost always illusory, an idea that permeates his dark and twisted new Netflix film Reptile starring Benicio del Toro. In the film, which got its international premiere on Thursday at the Toronto International Film Festival and hits Netflix a little less than a month from now, del Toro plays a hard-bitten detective who’s haunted by a “real nightmare” of a murder.

“In America, we have a fascination with violence and true crime,” Singer explained in a promotional interview for the streamer about Reptile, which follows del Toro’s detective trying to unravel the brutal murder of a young real estate agent.

Continues Singer: “I wanted to tell a story that explored the capacity for evil. I wanted to make a film that explored the unknowable aspects of crime, and one that questions our inherent trust in authority. What makes certain stories resonant oftentimes is how much we don’t know, how much is left to our imagination. How do you make a film that is satisfying while still leaving things for interpretation? That was the inspiration that set off the events laid out in the movie.”

Reptile on Netflix
Benicio del Toro as Tom Nichols in “Reptile.” Image source: Kyle Kaplan/Netflix

The plot: As del Toro’s hardened detective is working to get to the bottom of the real estate agent’s murder, nothing about the case is as it seems. And in the process, he’s also slowly dismantling the illusions in his own life.

The Reptile cast is rounded out by Alicia Silverstone as the detective’s wife, while Justin Timberlake stars as the murder victim’s boyfriend.

There’s a tense Hitchcockian discomfort that pervades the trailer, which you can check out below and which is honestly what got me so excited for the movie all by itself. This is a movie about more than a murder. It’s as much about the fallible, often morally ambiguous people who spend most of their lives closer than most of us will ever be to true evil. “Who do we like for this?” one of the detectives lightheartedly asks his colleagues at one point about the murder.

“I’ll go with the boyfriend.”

“I’ve got the friend.”

“I’ll take the weirdo.”

“I’m going with the ex-husband.”

Somehow, Juice Newton’s maudlin Angel of the Morning never sounded so haunting, as it plays over a quick succession of scenes in the trailer in which all manner of evil and shock are hinted at. “Interesting, huh?” del Toro quips directly at the camera in the closing frame, and you can’t help but agree. Moreover, this is one of the handful of upcoming movies hitting the streamer between now and the end of this year that I am seriously chomping at the bit to see.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.