Tommy Wirkola, the man who brought us such genre gems as Dead Snow and Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, is back with a brand new Netflix sci-fi thriller called What Happened to Monday, starring Noomi Rapace. Told in the vein of a 1990s Paul Verhoeven movie, this film is set in a futuristic world where massive overpopulation has led to a one child per family policy, strictly kept in practice by government head Nicolette Cayman (Glenn Close), men in suits round up any unauthorized siblings and haul them away to a lab where they are cryogenically frozen until a day when the world is better suited to hold them. That’s why when Terrence Settman (Willem Dafoe)’s wife dies giving birth to their seven identical twins, he takes it upon himself to keep them hidden from the public eye and teaches them to all take on the same personality, Karen Settman, so that they are not discovered and taken away. He gives each of his seven little girls a different name of the week, which not only serves as their true identity, but also tells them which day of the week they are allowed to exit the apartment and go outside into the world. Monday can go out into the world as Karen on Monday, Tuesday can go out into the world on Tuesday, and so on and so forth. His plan works swimmingly for several years, well into the girls’ adulthood, until one day, Monday doesn’t come home.
Frantic that their little secret has been uncovered, the rest of the girls (all played by Noomi Rapace) begin their search for the truth. All they want to do is bring home their sister safely, but what they find in their quest will lead to so much more than any of them could have ever anticipated. If they want to keep their family together, they’ll have to combine all of their different skills, take on Child Allocation Bureau, and go up against the terrifying Cayman herself, all so they can retrieve their lost sibling and learn the real story about What Happened To Monday.
“It has a real issue at the bottom, but at the same time, was fun and had a big entertainment quality to it, and in my head when I read it, I saw it as kind of my chance to do something close to films that I loved when I was growing up, especially from Paul Verhoeven,” director Wirkola says about balancing entertainment with terror in a project that’s so eerily timely in its illustration of overpopulation. “It is a scary issue of course, and a real one if one is to believe, and in less than twenty years we could have a real problem on our hands if we don’t do anything soon. But in my head, that notion could be combined with something exciting, no matter how sick that sounds.”
There’s been much debate surrounding streaming services lately, especially with Okja, a Netflix movie, heading to Cannes and bearing the brunt of much criticism from die-hard movie fans. While Wirkola admits that he would love for his movie to play theatrically in America on as many screens as possible, he credits Netflix for giving his movie an audience which he might not have otherwise received.
“Netflix is known as the big disruptors in regards to that but I think in the long run, yes, you look at them, you look at Amazon, you look at all these new players coming into it and it’s just going to be more product and more good stuff, and this film is a film that we struggled to get made in the studio system in the U.S. so the fact that Netflix came on board and are believing in it as much as they do, and pushing it out there, it’s a relief for us. But I think it’s a good thing, yes, and sure, when I made it, did I dream about having it have the biggest theatrical release in the whole world? Yeah, sure, but now we’re getting that in Europe, theatrical release in Europe and we’re getting Netflix in the U.S. and I know the film will be seen by a lot of people because of it, and that is the main reason to make films, to get it out there for as many people as possible and Netflix, they have that and they believe in that and they help young filmmakers create great product.”
Don’t miss What Happened to Monday on Netflix now, and keep an eye out for all of Wirkola’s projects on the horizon, which seems utterly exciting, to say the least.