When Wingard was brought onto the film, the script, which was penned by Charles Parlapanides, Vlas Parlapanides, and Jeremy Slater, already had what he calls the "brilliant wrap-up" of an ending, but it originally looked very different. For one thing, it was set in Chicago; Wingard moved the story to Seattle to give it a dreary, rainy look. It was also a film that spanned a longer period of time, with the first 40 minutes taking place in high school and then shifting to college; instead, he wanted to make a high school movie with a dark, Heathers-like vibe.
Staying true to his goal, the action in Death Note's finale begins at a high school dance, much like in his 2014 thriller The Guest. ("That was the empty high school dance, the low-budget version," jokes Wingard.) After Mia, who has become Light's partner in crime as they kill people around the world, betrays Light, the movie kicks into high-gear, leaving the gymnasium behind for a lengthy chase sequence between Light and L, the delightfully eccentric detective played by Atlanta's Lakeith Stanfield. It becomes a cat-and-mouse game filtered through Wingard's oddball sensibility.