The game is afoot with these murder mysteries.
Rian Johnson has made a name for himself as the director who is bringing back the whodunit. As of late, there haven't been many murder mysteries that have been entertaining, but Knives Out became something truly special. When the first film was released, it became a force because of how many people went to go watch it and then recommended it to others.
Now, almost two years later, Johnson has crafted another whodunit with a brand-new cast for the sequel, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, and an even more intricate story for audiences to sink their teeth into. There have been plenty of murder mysteries over the years that have shown the brilliant minds of the detectives, while also poking fun at how plans have been executed.
Writer-director Rian Johnson revived the genre in 2019 with the cinematic masterpiece Knives Out. It is the definition of a crowd-pleaser, and he even got nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. It takes a very special mind to reinvent the whodunit, but Johnson had a key player that the others did not, and that is Daniel Craig as Detective Benoit Blanc. This has Benoit Blanc investigating the death of Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) as his combative family all become suspects in his murder.
Once the murderer is revealed, it comes as such a shock because of how obvious the red herring was. But Johnson made all the pieces fit a certain way, so the anticipation would build, and the twist in the middle made an impact. This film made Chris Evans an incredibly fun supporting actor and Ana de Armas a star.
When a New York cop and his wife go on a European vacation to reinvigorate the spark in their marriage, they end up getting framed, and they're on the run for the death of an elderly billionaire. This Netflix film brings Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston back together again in this funny murder mystery that also brings back slapstick comedy.
The script written by James Vanderbilt is quite good as an American cop uses his instincts and training to become a detective in his own right, but there's a certain disconnect. This is what makes the mystery so fun to solve and the humor pretty sharp, especially between AnistonandSandler. There are many people involved, and it becomes pure chaos in order to find out who the murderer is.
Apart from being Iron Man in the same year, Robert Downey Jr. also played Sherlock Holmes in Guy Ritchie's adaptation. In this film, there is a string of brutal murders that terrorize London, and it doesn't take long for Holmes and Dr. John Watson (Jude Law) to investigate. The suspect in question was Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong) – who plays an incredible villain – as he is a devotee of the dark arts and has a bigger scheme in mind.
The game is naturally afoot once Blackwood rises from the grave, plunging Holmes and Watson into the world of the occult. Any iteration of Sherlock Holmeshas been incredible because of the way writers and directors meticulously execute the investigation of the murder. They get into his mind for it to be broken down visually for audiences to understand his thought process.
If you ever wanted to watch Ryan Gosling's best performance, this is the movie to see. In this adventurous murder mystery directed by Shane Black, Holland March (Gosling) is a down-on-his-luck private eye in 1977 Los Angeles. Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) is a hired enforcer who hurts people for a living.
Fate turns them into unlikely partners after a young woman named Amelia (Margaret Qualley) mysteriously disappears. The script was well-written and highlighted what happened to many young women vying to become the next starlet when adult films were all the rage.
In order for a murder mystery to work, it needs to have a dynamic cast, and Bad Times at the El Royale has an unconventional one with some standout performances. The El Royale is a run-down hotel that sits on the border between California and Nevada. It soon becomes a seedy battleground when seven strangers – a cleric, a soul singer, a traveling salesman, two sisters, the manager and the mysterious Billy Lee (Chris Hemsworth) – converge on a fateful night for one last shot at redemption before everything goes wrong.
First and foremost, this film is written and directed by Drew Goddard, so not only is the story compelling with rich dialogue and intriguing characters, but it's also visually stunning thanks to director of photography Seamus McGarvey. Each character has their moment to shine as their stories begin to interweave leaving the audience to question all of them and why they've all come to the same place.
Clue is an American black comedy based on the board game of the same name, and is directed by Jonathan Lynn, who also collaborated on the script with John Landis. There are six blackmail victims who are invited to an isolated mansion by a man who knows a dark secret from each of their pasts. On arrival, each is given a pseudonym drawn from Cluedo before being introduced to the blackmailer.
Each is handed a weapon, at which point the lights are switched off and the blackmailer is killed. This whodunit truly adapts the best aspects of the game and that's why the concept is well-done. It has a wonderful cast who overplay their characters and make it campy and fun.
In Fletch investigative reporter Irwin "Fletch" Fletcher (Chevy Chase) might drive his editor (Richard Libertini) up the wall, but he always produces great pieces for the newspaper. When his next story is about the drug trade taking place on the beach, Fletch goes undercover as a homeless man. Unaware of Fletch's true identity, businessman Alan Stanwyk (Tim Matheson) offers Fletch $50,000 to kill him.
It is considered a novel story about what happens on the receiving end as an investigator, and it's interesting to watch Fletch battle with the idea. It's a darker comedy, but the mystery of Alan Stanwyk is compelling enough to make this a fun blend of crime and comedy.
Like any other remake or revival, people were apprehensive about this version of The Pink Panther. After audiences saw how incredibly funny Steve Martin looked as Inspector Jacques Clouseau and how obscure his accent was, this easily became one of the best comedies of the early 2000s.
Even though it sounds simple, the way the story is executed makes for a very engaging murder mystery with some hilarious moments. Director Shawn Levy brought a wonderful cast together, and they all bring their own comedic background which just adds to the film as a whole.
Thanks to Rian Johnson and Sir Kenneth Branagh, the brilliant mind of Agatha Christie is reworked and brought to the big screen with a fun cast of characters. In 1950s London, plans for a movie version of a smash-hit play come to an abrupt halt after a pivotal member of the crew is murdered. When a world-weary inspector and an eager rookie constable take on the case, they find themselves thrown into a puzzling whodunit.
This whodunit has many layers to it and the twist is placed in a different spot than audiences are used to. The reveal is incredibly well done and stays true to the story within a story narrative that is being presented as the play is being reworked into a movie.
Even though Scream is in the horror genre, Wes Craven expertly blends genre conventions to make a unique murder mystery. There are many layers to Scream, and it is one of the best murder mysteries, especially once you know who the killer is.
A year after the murder of her other, Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) is terrorized by a new killer, who targets the girl and her friends by using horror films as part of a deadly game. It has become a classic horror film that many others reference because of how it changed the genre.
Next: Murder Mysteries to Watch After 'Death on the Nile'
Amanda Guarragi is an entertainment journalist and film critic. She fell in love with cinema at such a young age and has been writing reviews for the past eight years. She loves Marvel and DC and is a huge Harry Potter fan. She has been accredited press for Sundance and TIFF over the years. She loves the film festival atmosphere and being able to discuss films with everyone.