Knives Out: A Fresh Take on the Murder Mystery Genre


Knives Out Photo credit: Wikipedia

Gavin Clingham, Staff Writer

We’ve seen countless murder mystery movies over the years—Clue, Murder on the Orient Express, and Murder Mystery, to name a few. For the most part, though, they’ve all been pretty similar. A person is murdered, a detective looks for clues, a person who didn’t do it is ID’d as the prime suspect, the clues are examined, and then there’s a twist ending where it was a person you didn’t expect. This film does something wholly different with this formula. While most murder mysteries have a bunch of empty space before the killer is revealed, Knives Out has a lot to keep you on the edge of your seat before the reveal.

Knives Out follows the family of a wealthy crime novelist named Harlan Thrombey. There’s Harlan’s eldest daughter Linda (Jamie Lee Curtis), Linda’s husband Richard (Don Johnson), Harlan’s daughter-in-law Joni (played by the underrated Toni Collette), Joni’s daughter Megan (Katherine Langford), Harlan’s youngest son Walter (Michael Shannon), Walter’s son Jacob (Jaden Martell), and Linda’s son Ransom (Chris Evans). They all gather for Harlan’s birthday party, and the next morning he is found dead. The autopsy shows that he killed himself, but the police come to investigate. Detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) and Lieutenant Elliot (Lakeith Stanfield) investigate the death and start to discover that there’s more to it than they think. They are also aided by Harlan’s caretaker and close friend Marta (Ana De Armas).

Before walking into this, I read reviews that said the film is smartly written. Those reviews couldn’t be more true. The screenplay is thought-provoking, gripping, intense at times, and hilarious. There is also an absolutely incredible metaphor for the whole story that makes it even better than it already was. It is all perfectly tied together and the mystery is well handled. And each character delivers each line of dialogue wonderfully. You can also tell that many of the actors are having a lot of fun with their roles. 

Knives Out manages to fill space before the mystery unfolds. In a way, a whole different story plays out in between and ties in with the established story. I also love how the story feels grounded. You can really feel how it places itself in the present day but doesn’t blatantly say how it’s in the present day. It’s feels like both a classic whodunit and a modern crime story. 

Knives Out is a film I recommend. I know the guy who directed and wrote it (Rian Johnson) also made Star Wars: The Last Jedi (which made almost every Star Wars fan lose his mind) but that doesn’t mean this film is the same as that. I saw so many fake reviews from fanboys who hated The Last Jedi that tried to lower the score of Knives Out even though they’ve never seen it. It’s a film that’s gripping and hilarious from start to finish.