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If you checked out your Netflix homepage in recent days, you might have noticed a new title among the top-trending carousel: Reptile. The thriller, helmed by first-time feature filmmaker Grant Singer following a hugely successful run as a music-video director, began streaming last week and, according to Variety, quickly became the most-watched English-language movie on Netflix, with 17.7 million viewers. (Only the Spanish dystopian survival thriller Nowhere ranked higher, with 23.4 million views.)
The quick rise to the top of the Netflix charts has Yahoo readers asking lots of burning questions... and we have all your answers.
What is Reptile about? Who is in the cast?
The official blurb explains the film thusly:
A hardened detective uncovers a complex web of deception as he digs for the truth behind the brutal murder of a young real estate agent.
The film stars Benicio del Toro, Alicia Silverstone and Justin Timberlake.
As any former card-carrying Blockbuster movie renter can tell you, Reptile features a very important Excess Baggage reunion, reteaming Del Toro and Silverstone for the very first time since that 1997 film. Speaking to Yahoo Entertainment for a recent Director's Reel, Singer said he couldn't take all the credit for bringing the duo back together as, respectively, small-town detective Tom Nichols and his wife, Judy.
"Benicio and I were talking about who could play Judy, and he mentioned Alicia," recalls Singer, who was just 17 when Excess Baggage hit theaters. "Having worked with her and known her for so long, he was aware she could inhabit the role in a really interesting way. Alicia brings such a vulnerability and strength to that relationship — she's really the emotional anchor of the film."
Del Toro's Tom is a former Philadelphia cop who left his previous job after an investigation into his corrupt partner. Freshly relocated to New England, he gets tangled in another web of deceit that originates with the murder of a local real estate agent — potentially by her partner, played by Justin Timberlake — and stretches back into Tom's new department. Eventually, the world-weary cop who just wants to stay neutral has to pick a side, even if it means upending the quiet life he promised Judy.
"We wanted to evoke the feeling of being deceived, and play with this idea of the hunter being the hunted," Singer says of the inspiration for Reptile, which he co-wrote with Benjamin Brewer and Del Toro. Additional inspiration was provided by films like Serpico and The Conversation, not to mention the work of another one-time music video auteur, David Fincher, whom Singer calls "one of my favorite living directors."
"But I'll be honest — I was just trying to do me," he adds. "This is my first film, so I was approaching it as: 'What do I want to do? What is my style?' I think it's ultimately about this balance between formalism, where things are very graphic and composed, but also the feeling that you're within a scene and the camera becomes invisible."
Who is the killer?
It's too soon for us to give up any spoilers, but if you want a full explanation of the ending, check out Netflix's content site, Tudum.
Where was Reptile filmed?
While the film is set in the town of Scarborough, Maine, filming actually took in suburban Atlanta, in the community of Dunwoody.
What do the critics say?
Critical reactions have been mixed to bad.
The Los Angeles Times commended Del Toro, saying he "holds a movie frame like few in his profession," but faulted the film for trying "to match its star's unpredictable magnetism with a forced eeriness, only growing more ponderous and unfocused, like a case getting colder."
The Hollywood Reporter applauded Singer for filling Reptile with "gripping sequences, suspenseful moments, dramatic pauses and surprising levity" but ultimately "the tricks that initially impressed eventually become hard to endure."
Deadline praised the film's "atmospheric tension" and then knocked the "formulaic storytelling."
Variety, meanwhile, described Reptile as "moody cop noir" that "tugs you along with a competent and accessible intrigue."
The Wrap called the film a "showy, tiresome thriller," adding that "it almost plays like a parody of a dense, thorny crime thriller."
The film has a 42% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 66 reviews, but a much more positive 77% audience score.
What music videos has Grant Singer directed?
Before tackling Reptile, Singer was an accomplished and sought-after director of music videos. Among the clips he helmed: Sky Ferreira's "Lost in My Bedroom"; The Weeknd's "The Hills," "Can't Feel My Face" and "Tell Your Friends"; Ariana Grande's "Let Me Love You," featuring Lil Wayne; the Taylor Swift and Zayn Malik duet "I Don't Wanna Live Forever"; Lorde's "Green Light"; and Sam Smith's "To Die For."
Reptile is currently streaming on Netflix.