Though Netflix movies seem like a dime a dozen these days, there are some that stand out — and not always for the best reasons. Whether they're originals, neglected projects that have found a home, or big-budget movies that get their international releases on the streaming site, Netflix has a wealth of content to peruse.
One of last year's biggest, if not best, names was the Polish-language movie 365 Days (titled 365 DNI in Polish). It was branded as a 50 Shades of Grey clone, only more OTT.
In reality, 365 Days was far worse than 50 Shades of Grey. The latter's mediocrity, cliché ridden plot, and "vanilla" BDSM cosplaying as something more hardcore made it funny, sure, but not particularly bothersome.
365 Days, however, is a rape-fantasy glorification on steroids, one that revels in gaslighting its victim and never holding its abuser to any sort of consequence. And now it's getting not one, but two sequels.
The film was eviscerated by critics. Taking out the whole condoning-rape-and-kidnapping thing, 365 Days was just not good. Reviews ranged in tone from calling it "dumber than hair" (Variety) to "the worst thing [we've] ever seen" (Cosmopolitan).
And even if you wanted to enjoy it for the sheer sexiness of it, as The Guardian wrote: "Then there’s all the sex, which is by far the biggest failing of 365 Days. Because, despite enjoying a pair of ridiculously photogenic leads, this is easily the least sexy screen sex since you saw Tommy Wiseau’s buttocks pumping away in The Room."
So why, why are we getting two sequels to this obviously and objectively bad film? Because people watched it.
According to Deadline: [V]iewers voted with their eyeballs, and the popularity of the movie was clear. The film registered on Netflix’s daily Top 10 lists in more than 90 countries and was the fourth most-searched movie on Google globally in 2020, according to the streamer.
"Ultimately, data-driven platforms such as Netflix track what their viewers are watching and respond accordingly with their production choices." This is a hugely misleading, however. As Netflix play their viewing numbers close to the chest, we don't know how many of the people who started the movie watched it all the way through, or (as is common now) hate-watched it.
While capitalism has dictated the way we make movies for a long time, it has become more apparent that making movies solely based on statistics like viewing numbers is a poor way of generating anything of quality. Box-office takings and viewing numbers can help support an existing idea or project, giving that added push to what we already know to be true (that there is a thirst for representation and diversity of storytelling). But they shouldn't be the deciding – or only – factor when it comes to greenlighting projects.
Before you accuse of us naivety and say that businesses have an obligation to maximise profits, ask yourself why General Motors doesn't sell crack (TL;DR: even though it's super profitable, society deems it wrong). In this case, it appears that Netflix has decided that eyeballs on screens are the only things that matter, not how their films (whether originals or not) impact those viewers.
With Netflix at the helm of the 365 Days sequels, we can hope that the stories will be less pro-rape and Stockholm Syndrome-y as it's unlikely they'll want to upset people as much as they did the first time around. Regardless, Netflix have perhaps unknowingly taken a stance as it relates to the discourse around 365 Days' merits as a film.
By making the sequels, there is a not-so-subtle condoning of the messages from the first film. And as the singer Duffy (who is better qualified than most to speak to the subject) wrote in her letter to Netflix after the release of 365 Days: "To anyone who may exclaim 'it is just a movie', it is not 'just' when it has great influence to distort a subject which is widely undiscussed, such as sex trafficking and kidnapping, by making the subject erotic."
Short of the sequel throwing Massimo in prison and giving Laura a happily ever after – with plenty of trauma therapy – we imagine there's going to be much to complain about. So far, the plot for the second sequel (which includes a spoiler for the first film) reads: "Laura and Massimo are reunited, but their new beginning is complicated by Massimo’s family ties and a mysterious man who enters Laura’s life to win her heart and trust at any cost."
At any cost. Under other circumstances, those words would simply signify thrilling suspense, enticing viewers in. Given what we know about 365 Days, they instead fill us with dread.
Rape Crisis England and Wales works towards the elimination of all forms of sexual violence and sexual misconduct. If you’ve been affected by the issues raised in this story, you can access more information on their website or by calling the National Rape Crisis Helpline on 0808 802 9999. Rape Crisis Scotland’s helpline number is 08088 01 03 02.
Readers in the US are encouraged to contact RAINN, or the National Sexual Assault Hotline on 800-656-4673.
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