Knives Out keeps viewers on the edge of their seats


Claire Folger

The extended family of deceased Harlan Thromby (Christopher Plummer) gathered in his mansion’s parlor.

Melanie Duronio, Staff Writer

Rian Johnson’s film Knives Out creates a compelling murder mystery that is easy to become enraptured by, thanks to its stunning visuals and entertaining characters. Set in a gothic mansion and filmed locally in Massachusetts, the movie feels as though it has leaped from the pages of a classic mystery novel, adding to an atmosphere that is both dark and mysterious.

The movie begins after crime novelist, Harlan Thromby (Christopher Plummer), has seemingly committed suicide following his 85th birthday.  Harlan’s family is brought back to his mansion to recount the events of the night he died while Detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) investigates what looks to be an open and shut case.  However, Detective Blanc soon realizes that the cause of Harlan’s death may be more sinister than he had originally thought, and suddenly, everyone is a suspect. 

The film was directed and written by Rian Johnson with Ram Bergman as the producer.  Although Knives Out only had a budget of $40 million, considerably lower than past blockbusters, the crew made the most of every last penny.  The cinematography is phenomenal, using color and lighting to match the overall mood of each individual scene.  I especially loved how every room inside of the mansion had a different color scheme and multiple knickknacks, bringing the setting to life and helping me feel like I was experiencing the story alongside the characters.

As for costume design, each character is dressed with outfits that reflect each of their personalities.  Bold and assertive characters wear brightly colored suits and dresses while those more withdrawn are dressed plainly, with dull colors that make them blend into the background.      

Most of the story is seen through the eyes of Marta Cabrera (Ana de Armas), a young woman who worked as Harlan’s nurse and is now grappling with the aftermath of his death.  Detective Benoit Blanc, however, is the true star of the movie.

Detective Blanc is an enjoyable character to watch on screen, as he adds humor to more sinister moments and provides amusing banter with the other characters.  He was also the character I was able to connect to the most because he, like the audience, is trying to solve the mystery of Harlan’s death, making it feel like you are solving the mystery alongside him.

One of the strengths of this movie is the use of a large cast of characters. Every character has unique traits that make him or her memorable to the audience and easy to differentiate from, something that is not easy to pull off in any form of media.  One way they do this is by introducing the family members through Detective Blanc’s interrogations.  Their answers to each of his questions showcase their distinct personalities as well as their morals through the recounting of the night’s events. 

The movie also does a great job of creating an engaging story with multiple twists and turns that successfully keep the audience wondering what will happen next.  It is very easy to become invested in the plot as you try to piece together the clues alongside the characters.

The only flaw I can point out is that the movie is very quickly paced.  This isn’t a problem during the first two acts, as it keeps the plot running smoothly, but by the third, so many things are happening seemingly at once that I felt overwhelmed.  The movie managed to wrap everything up and tie-up all loose ends, but I found myself confused by how quickly everything happened.   

Overall, Knives Out exceeded my expectations with a compelling plot packed with action, suspense, and lovable characters.  I strongly recommend this movie to anyone looking for a good mystery or just a worthy blockbuster.