The Best Murder Mysteries To Watch After ‘Knives Out’ and ‘Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery’
After bringing something new to the Skywalker Saga with The Last Jedi and being roasted for it by certain factions online (despite it being one of the best Star Wars films), most of us can at least agree that director Rian Johnson know how to make a murder mystery that’s delectable in both its writing and its casting. His star-studded whodunnit Knives Out headlined by Daniel Craig was a critical and commercial hit. Now we have more Knives Out with Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery! Daniel Craig returns as Benoit Blanc to investigate a mystery featuring an all-new cast, this time on Netflix.
If you love the Knives Out movies, I’ve compiled some of the most entertaining films in or adjacent to the murder mystery genre. Prepare your self: These films will shock you, make you laugh, and make you question everything.
Bad Times at the El Royale (2018)
This isn’t quite a murder mystery, but there is a lot of mystery and a lot of murder. Set against the backdrop of the El Royale (a hotel on the border of California and Nevada), a colorful cast of untrustworthy characters are brought together and their secretive motivations overlap until the climax of the film. As with other mysteries, each character almost fulfills their own archetype, but there’s a lot more to each of their stories (and the hotel itself).
If the cast, setting, and music don’t draw you in, then you might like to know that Drew Goddard—a major creative voice behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Lost, Cabin in the Woods, and Cloverfield—wrote and directed this film. So you know it’s going to be a wild time.
Edgar Allan Poe’s Murder Mystery Dinner Party (2016)
If you have ever considered getting a degree in Classics or English literature and you can tolerate anachronistic comedy, this one is for you. This 11-part murder mystery party series (that, even combined, is shorter than most movies) features Edgar Allan Poe hosting an exclusive dinner party with some of the most famous authors from across the (mostly white) world. The guest list includes names like Dickinson, Dostoevsky, Alcott, Wells, Shelley, Brontë, Krishanti, and many others to impress Poe’s crush. What night of camaraderie with famous authors wouldn’t get derailed by murder? (Also, if you’re wondering if that’s Jerry, Terry, Gary, or Jim O’Heir from Parks and Recreation, you’d be correct.)
Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)
This film’s ability to combine 2D animation with live-action footage and get so many copyrighted characters from different studios together still reverberates decades later. In 2022 alone, we’ve got character development in a similar style during season 3 of The Boys and an outright homage in Chip ’n Dale: Rescue Rangers. With the clashing of worlds and opposing personalities, Roger Rabbit gives off more of a buddy cop vibe (sans copaganda), but the sleuthing element is still very much present as Roger and Eddie must figure out who is killing the toons and why.
The Nice Guys (2016)
You know that part of a murder mystery where you think you know whodunnit, but then they die and you’re like, “Well, where do I go from here?” The Nice Guys is that and more, as Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe play independent investigators looking for the murderer of a sex worker in the 1970s.
Ya’ll knew I couldn’t make this list without including this, right? Possibly the best board game movie adaptation of all time, Clue features a stacked cast that includes one of the greatest Tim Curry characters. Each time you rewatch Clue, you will realize you missed a pun, hint, reference, or gag you didn’t notice before. By the way, this movie has three different endings.
Decision To Leave (2022)
Called upon to investigate a gruesome, unnatural death near a mountaintop, Detective Jang Hae-jun finds the question of whether this was a murder, accident, or suicide as intriguing as he finds the dead man’s wife, Seo-rae. As Hae-jun moves closer to the truth, he faces deception at every turn. In every murder mystery, you need to pay attention to every single detail. Decision To Leave makes it easy because the movie is haunting and stunning. Without saying too much more, this is a must if you want a little sexual tension in your murder mystery with just a sprinkle of obsession.
Agatha Christie mysteries (1928 to present)
In addition to avoiding true crime stories, this list was mostly an Agatha Christie-free list. While she was the novelist in this genre, older adaptations are more likely to hang on to the rampant antisemitism and racism in her work (and her personal life), and the new ones are embroiled in their own controversies. Christie’s mysteries were not worth it for this list.
However, upon watching dozens of interviews with Rian Johnson about Knives Out, this felt like it was really missing. He mentions Christie’s work in every other interview, so if someone really gets into the genre more because of Johnson’s Knives Out movies, it might be worth it to explore some of Christie’s adapted works—especially because, unlike other bigoted authors of the present, Christie is long dead and not reaping the benefits. I encourage you to especially look for works adapted by Jewish directors/writers and creatives of color.
(featured image: Netflix)
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