‘Knives Out,’ a delightful new twist on the classic mystery genre

‘Knives Out,’ a delightful new twist on the classic mystery genre

Brandon Kim

“Knives Out” is a wonderfully crafted film that leaves the viewer energized when they exit the theater. It is an homage to the old Alfred Hitchcock movies and interconnected puzzles of Agatha Christie’s novels, as seen by its music and title fonts,  Brian Johnson directed “Knives Out,” the director of the controversial “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” 

“Knives Out” follows famous private investigator Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) after a suspicious suicide on the 85th birthday of successful mystery writer Harlan Thombrey and the squabbles of a rich, dysfunctional family. Its mix of comedy and suspense really makes this a standout movie. The cast is filled with stars, from faces like Don Johnson, (Watchmen) Katherine Langford, (Thirteen Reasons Why) and Chris Evans (Captain America) to a tiny role played by Frank Oz ( The Muppet Show). 

All of these talented actors make this film pop, with the performances of their characters that embody the personas of a classic whodunit. For example, the mysterious and foreign detective and the shady outcast while making them different and fleshed-out characters in their own right.

The plot is well crafted, with a well done example of dramatic irony through flashbacks and a character that knows half of the story about what went on the night of the murder, Marta Carera, Thombrey’s nurse. The dramatic irony allows the viewer to really be engaged in the film and try to guess what happened, with its classic twists and little details that don’t matter until later. It’s a contrast to Sherlock Holmes, where the reader cannot possibly solve the mystery until Sherlock regurgitates the answer to the mystery at the end. 

The film has witty comedic moments from the film, like an argument at the will-reading which Blanc describes as a “theatrical reading of a tax collection.” The outcast of the family, Ramson Thombrey (Chris Evans) manages to irritate everyone by saying to everyone, “eat s**t” and turns them against each other until it becomes a shoving and fighting match while Ramson looks on calmly, eating cookies. This movie is definitely not for small children, with references to sex and excessive cursing, especially from Ransom.

The film goes on to embody a typical mystery story, with multiple people with motives to kill Harlan and lies misleading viewers and Blanc. However, there is one exception. Carera is so truthful, she throws up when she lies.

Craig’s character seems like he’s directly from a mystery novel, with a classic tweed suit and an Everlasting Gobstopper of a cigar. For this film, Craig adopted a southern accent that was perfect for the character, and an old fashioned drawl with dropped rs like Kevin Spacey in House of Cards. But, it fit his character, “The Last of the Gentleman Sleuths,” a stark contrast to the rich northern family.

The film also got very political with its characters and addressed issues like trolls, wealth disparity and immigration. Marta, who is an immigrant from South America with an undocumented mother, is constantly mislabeled by the family who calls her from Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay and Ecuador, so no person in the family really knows where she is from. It is apparent that the running gag in the movie of not knowing where Carera is from also is to show the aloofness of the rich which is good in starting discussion.

Ironically, the family always says “you are a part of this family” while disregarding her when her place in the family becomes inconvenient. They also call her “the help” while having debates about immigration in front of her. It also makes jabs at America’s president today, with a “small loan of a million dollars” joke and depicts how the rich family brags about how they are self made when all the wealth came from Harlan. It adds another layer to the film, about how it is not only a mystery film, but about political jabs that are sometimes a bit too on the nose. 

With its politics aside, “Knives Out” is an exciting film with a classic feel that action blockbusters and CGI fests cover up in the present. This was a refreshing change from normal movies. It is clever, funny and engaging with its plot and characters. It also made political statements by showing opposing viewpoints, which makes sense in its mission to update the genre in 2019. It was an exciting film, and I would highly recommend it to all mystery lovers.

If you watched “Knives Out,” what did you think about it? Let us know in the comments below.