Knives Out sets a new standard for the mystery genre


The mystery genre for cinema is often unoriginal and lackluster. Mystery movies only contain characters we have already seen and twists we have already witnessed. Good examples of this could be Clue and Sherlock Holmes; these stories have been told multiple times in different ways, and you can tell that these tales are worn out.  However, the new film Knives Out breaks the dull pattern beautifully.

The morning after his 85th birthday, famous crime novelist Harlan Thrombey, played by Christopher Plummer, is found dead from a suspected suicide. Police begin to take care of the situation when detective Benoit Blanc, played by Daniel Craig, is hired by an anonymous source to look into the case. The new knowledge of foul play turns the presumed suicide on its head.

The audience starts off watching each of Harlan’s sons and daughters interviewed by the local detective while Benoit Blanc sits in the background of the questioning. The audience sneaks a peek into each of the lives, relationships, and motives of every character. We’re introduced to Linda Drysdale, played by Jamie Lee Curtis, the one and only daughter of Harlan. Her relationship with her father is hindered as she feels she had no support from him when she built her ‘self-made’ business, though Linda received a million-dollar loan from her father.

 Then, the audience meets Linda’s husband Richard Drysdale, played by Don Johnson, who is less than faithful to his wife. Harlan found out and confronted Richard before his birthday party; Harlan threatened to tell Linda, making Richard very nervous and giving him a possible motive. 

Then, we interrogate Walt Thrombey, played by Michael Shannon. He owns his dad’s book publishing company; he never followed what he dreamt to do. He only followed the family fortune, only having status from the inheritance. Harlan had a conversation with Walt that he doesn’t need to run the publishing company anymore, so Walt takes offense to this and can be deduced to a motive. 

The fourth a final family relation is the wife of the late Neil Throneberry Joni Thrombery, played by Toni Colette. Her father-in-law pays for her daughter’s tuition, and Joni embezzles more from him to live off of. Harlan quickly finds out about this act and cuts off their funds. 

This scene is very fast-paced, almost a little too fast. I tried to keep up with all of this incoming information at once. It’s very straightforward and to the point, introducing us to all the characters until it gets flipped on its head and we find out what was really the cause of his death. 

This at first seemed pointless as the story is already laid out for us. From start to end, the tale was finished, but boy was I wrong. There’s more to the story, and it’s proven to be difficult to review this movie without spoiling it. This movie isn’t your usual who-done-it but instead more subversive and expands the definition of the mystery movie genre.

This movie was brilliantly acted, each actor filling out the character and each having a shining moment. I especially loved how well Daniel Craig did as the detective and managed to portray a southern drawl at the same time. It was certainly weird not to hear his normal voice, but I was okay with it. Ana de Armas was one of the best actors in this film and did a phenomenal job depicting an immense range of emotions, which I’m sure was difficult to do so but did it exceptionally. 

I thought the character interactions were amazing; having each unique personality play off of each other was so fun to watch especially since each one was a snobby, entitled rich person. It included political talk at family functions that we are so used to nowadays such as social justice warrior and Neo-nazi, which I thought it was hilarious to see on screen. It also has a clever way of making the audience laugh at its naturally humorous scenes but not so much to ease the tension of the situation.  

I do have two critiques. I felt that each character was well developed except for one: Jacob Thrombey, played by Jaeden Martell. He really only existed for the butt of a joke. As an avid supporter of interesting, growing characters, this hurt. Additionally, the story was very slow in the middle and fast towards the end which was frustrating because, at some points, it was hard to follow but then hard to pay attention.

Overall, I felt Knives Out set a new pace for the mystery genre, using new techniques of the plot to create an enticing and immersive story.