Knives Out kills genre cliches in fresh take on murder mystery


Hannah Kopek, Co-Editor-In-Chief

Take everything you think you know about a ‘whodunnit’ murder mystery and forget it. Writer and director Rian Johnson subverts every audience expectation and nails the plot twist with a turn of a knife.
The cast was comprised of several heavy hitters like Daniel Craig, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Chris Evans, but the most compelling performance came from Ana de Armas. Her character, a mild mannered nurse, played a pivotal role.De Armas was given several quirks to incorporate, and she performed them so well that she was nominated for a Golden Globe. In his first solo outing since playing Captain America in Avenger’s: Endgame, it was refreshing to see Evans play the ‘bad boy’ role as opposed to the righteous Steve Rogers.
Hints of comedy kept the film out of the sinister and suspenseful corner of the mystery genre. However, the jokes did not discount the serious theme of the movie- it is about murder, money, and drugs after all. Johnson played into some murder mystery tropes, like a fake window, but it felt recognizable and familiar rather than contrived.
The plot twist was unexpected and shocking. When all the evidence was lined up, the answer seemed obvious, but throughout the movie Johnson did a brilliant job at incorporating multiple elements and revealing pieces of the puzzle in covert ways to keep the audience guessing.
The aesthetic of the movie was also incredible. Creepy meets charming and eclectic would be the best words to describe it. The mansion where most of the movie takes place was excellently designed and catered to the plot. Rich teals, maroons, and yellows kept the screen visually enticing.
Critics also agree that this movie was phenomenal. It received multiple nominations for Best Motion Picture Comedy and Best Acting Ensemble from Critic’s Choice, and a Costume designers Guild Award from constume designer Jenny Eagan.
While the movie was fun to watch, there were some problems with the pacing. The beginning was stuffed with the police interviews of each family member that established a motive for each. While humorous, it felt like a cheap way to dump important plot details rather than introduce them organically. A lot of detail was piled on at the end too, seemingly gaslighting the audience and not giving them time to question the information. The inconsistent use of title cards was also a bit distracting, but did not detract from the overall movie.
A lot of the movie was given away in teaser trailers, so those who paid close attention to them might have missed out on the surprise of the big reveal.
Because of its unique storyline, interesting characters, and impeccable set design, despite a few issues with pacing, I give this movie 4/5 stars.