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‘Knives Out’: the mystery film with more twists than a rollercoaster

SPOILER ALERT: This review contains plot elements

If it was possible to turn the experience of completing a jigsaw puzzle into a movie; Knives Out would be it.

While watching this 2019 mystery film, the complexity of the plot manages to hook you in and make you into a detective yourself as you try to figure out what is happening.

With more twists than a rollercoaster, the plot keeps you entertained for its entire duration, and the crazy characters are perfect company on a rainy afternoon.

The DVD cover of 'Knives Out' with the 9 main characters on the front, sits on the keyboard of an open laptop that is sitting on a ledge. In the background there is a front driveway and a row of trees that are all covered in water as it is raining.
Photo by Grace Buckmaster

Directed by Ryan Johnson, the film starts with a housekeeper trying to find the homeowner to bring them breakfast. But this is no ordinary house with no ordinary owner.

In a room at the top of a secret corridor, she finds the owner, mystery novelist, Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer), lying dead on a couch appearing to have committed suicide.

But what if it wasn’t suicide? Could it be a murder made to look like a suicide? Enter puzzle piece number one.

The dwelling is better described as a castle rather than a house and it’s the incredible detail in the set design that brings this movie to life. Most of the plot takes place in a huge 1950’s gothic mansion; the type of building where you’d expect to see gargoyles on the roof, ghosts haunting the attic, and an endless maze of rooms.

The inside of the house is equally eccentric; featuring vintage furniture, strange knick-knacks covering every surface, funky wallpaper, taxidermy animals, and mountains of books.

Some would describe it as junk but it perfectly frames the owner as a collector who seems to have lived a very long and mysterious life.

This attention to detail captures the viewers’ interest throughout the whole film and on every rewatch you’ll spot something new.

While the intricate sets make for great visuals, the real reason you should watch this movie is for the characters.

We are introduced to Harlan’s four adult children, their families, and his nurse Marta (Ana de Armas), as they sit through interviews with two police detectives.

The montage of interviews brilliantly welcomes you into the secrets they’re trying to hide, which sets the tone for their eccentric personalities, twisted relationships, and carves out more pieces of the puzzle.

Jamie Lee Curtis and Chris Evans headline a huge lineup of actors whose performances perfectly suit their characters and do an incredible job at adding further humour and detail.

Spearheading the investigation is Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig), a peculiar private detective with a southern accent who has shown up to investigate at the request of a mysterious client.

Described as ‘the last of the gentleman sleuths’, his strange methods and unusual phrases are a source of humour that pulls you into the action to make you feel like an assistant detective.

“A strange case from the start. A case with a hole in the middle. A donut. One central piece, and if it reveals itself, the fog will lift, the arc will resolve, the slinky become unkinked.”

– Benoit Blanc, Knives Out

The true appeal of this film is that everything comes wrapped in double meanings. There are two sides to every moment, each line foreshadows a later clue and is mixed with twists you never see coming.

This movie has everything you could possibly want in a mystery film; lies, arson, blackmail, and ‘the dumbest car chase of all time’ to keep you entertained.

The moment the pieces of the puzzle click and all the twists unfurl, you will be left reeling as you try to absorb the truth of what just happened and everything it took to get there.

While you wish you could watch it again for the first time for that sudden feeling of realisation, you will have just as much enjoyment the next time you watch as you pick up on the things you missed.

After all that, it seems like this movie is flawless, and in my opinion, it is… for the most part. The start of the movie is a bit tricky to get into, the bombardment of character introductions makes it slow-moving and hard to follow. Despite this, when you stick with it, the pieces of the puzzle start to become clear.

This film will capture your emotions and leave you inspired after the credits roll as you become part of the brilliance that is Knives Out.