Knives Out: A New Take on the Murder Mystery Style


I have to confess, when I first saw the trailer for Rian Johnson’s Knives Out I was not impressed. The film seemed to be another murder-mystery flick that would have great production specs and costume design, but little plot drive. The movie appeared to be a little too similar to Kenneth Branagh’s 2017 take on The Murder on the Orient Express. Both films boost an all-star cast: Daisy Ridley and Johnny Depp headline Orient Express, Daniel Craig and Chris Evans round out Knives Out. The two films are centered around a who-done-it mystery that invites audience members to guess along the way. I watched Orient Express in theaters when it first came out, and I was not impressed by it. I was not expecting Rian Johnson’s take on the murder-mystery genre to be any different. 


I couldn’t have been more wrong.


For starters, the plot of Knives Out is truly a thriller that keeps the mystery element alive throughout the whole film. Rian Johnson, who also wrote the film, cleverly structured the storyline to be unusual in a compelling way. It is completely different from other mystery films before it. This unorthodox take in telling a muder-mysery story somehow has the ability to draw viewers in. When I watched the film, the unique structural changes that were presented threw me completely off guard; as someone who can usually predict what will happen plot-wise in a movie, it was a nice change of pace to be surprised by a storytelling element. 


In movies, there sometimes is a problem when a cast consists of too many A-listers. There are too many people that could be in the spotlight, thus drawing focus away from the plot of the movie. Take the 2016 science fiction film Passengers for instance: Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawence are amazing actors in their own right, but when put together in an extremely ambitious movie production-wise and plot-wise, the end result was a total mess. Knives Out, however, is lucky enough to have a well rounded script that ties in every character neatly. None of the characters feel out of place because they all have a designated purpose in the larger plot scheme. 

Knives Out is a rare example of how great a movie can be when there is a good script, storyboard, casting, and production. The movie itself performed well enough in the box office and with critics that it is getting a sequel. I highly recommend watching it with friends, or even better yet, in large family gatherings.