The Willem Dafoe Sci-Fi Thriller On Netflix That Keeps You On The Edge Of Your Seat

By Chad Langen | Updated

Willem Dafoe in What Happened to Monday

Willem Dafoe is known for consistently delivering top-notch performances. Up next, he’ll take on the role of a novelist with a wild reputation in Patricia Arquette’s Gonzo Girl, arriving in theaters on September 7. In the meantime, you can catch him in the gripping sci-fi thriller What Happened to Monday, currently streaming on Netflix.

Willem Dafoe is a doting, inventive grandfather trying to keep his seven granddaughters safe in a dystopian future in What Happened to Monday, streaming now on Netflix.

Set in a not-so-distant future, What Happened to Monday portrays an overpopulated world where the Child Allocation Bureau, led by Nicolette Cayman (Glenn Close), enforces a strict one-child policy. Every sibling, except for the eldest, is put into cryosleep until the world can sustain them. Terrance Settman (Willem Dafoe) devises a scheme to hide the existence of his seven granddaughters, named after each day of the week, by having each one venture out only on their respective day.

What Happened to Monday boasts a stellar cast. In addition to Glenn Close and Willem Dafoe, Noomi Rapace (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) has a prominent role in the movie. She showcases her incredible versatility as she portrays the seven Settman sisters with distinctive personalities.

What Happened to Monday

A fascinating tidbit about What Happened to Monday revolves around the unique hairstyles of each sister, distinguishing them from one another. Sunday’s ponytail, Monday’s wavy locks, Tuesday’s red hair, Wednesday’s mid-length, Thursday’s short cut, Friday’s knit hat, and Saturday’s platinum blonde all contribute to their individual identities. These hairstyles are essential in helping the audience differentiate between the characters during the movie.

Behind the lens, Tommy Wirkola directed What Happened to Monday, previously known for his work on films like Dead Snow. Working closely with cinematographer José David Montero, Wirkola brought Max Botkin and Kerry Williamson’s intricate script to life. Their collaboration ensured a seamless translation of the narrative to the screen.

The performances of Willem Dafoe and Noomi Rapace were heavily praised in What Happened to Monday, with fans particularly appreciating the action sequences.

What Happened to Monday bypassed traditional theaters, making its debut exclusively on Netflix, where it swiftly became the platform’s most-watched movie. The film’s rise can be attributed to its riveting storyline, standout performances by Noomi Rapace and Willem Dafoe, and intriguing themes. Additionally, its fresh perspective on a dystopian future, combined with Netflix’s strong marketing, played a pivotal role in its broad acclaim.

Despite its popularity, What Happened to Monday garnered mixed reviews from critics upon its release. Many lauded the film’s originality and the standout performances of Noomi Rapace and Willem Dafoe. However, others highlighted the noticeable plot holes and felt the resolution was lacking.

What Happened to Monday

On Rotten Tomatoes, What Happened to Monday holds a critics score of 59 percent, while the audience score sits at a higher at 67 percent. It seems general viewers were more forgiving of the story’s perceived flaws that critics pointed out. The film’s action sequences and engaging plot particularly resonated with the audience.

During its production phase, What Happened to Monday experienced some notable changes. Initially named What Happened to Monday, the title was later changed to Seven Sisters before reverting to its original title upon Netflix’s acquisition. Additionally, Morten Tyldum was originally attached as the director of the film, but he departed the project to instead do The Imitation Game as his next project.

What Happened to Monday went through dramatic changes during production, from changing titles to making the main characters female, but Willem Dafoe was always a part of the story.

Another significant shift in the production of What Happened to Monday was the directorial change to Tommy Wirkola, who agreed to direct on the condition that the originally male siblings became female characters. This led to a complete script rewrite tailored for Noomi Rapace. Such a major revision naturally prompts curiosity about the potential impact on Willem Dafoe’s character’s screen presence.

Willem Dafoe, with his undeniable talent and on-screen presence, certainly doesn’t require any boosts to secure more screentime. He is slated to take center stage in a series of anticipated projects such as Gonzo Girl, The Man in My Basement, and Nosferatu. His continued prominence in such diverse roles reaffirms his stature in the film industry.

While you wait to see Willem Dafoe shine in future projects, there’s a gem from his filmography that demands attention — What Happened to Monday. Delving into the intricacies of societal reactions to the pressing issue of overpopulation, this film masterfully crafts a world rich in suspense, ensnaring its audience in a web of intrigue. Beyond its compelling storyline, the movie boasts visually arresting sequences and commendable performances, solidifying its place as a standout feature in Netflix’s continually expanding catalog.