Two years after literally burning the legacy of the past in his controversial Star Wars: The Last Jedi (my take? It’s the best Star Wars. No further questions), celebrated filmmaker Rian Johnson is returning to theatres with an enjoyably throwback, aggressively entertaining film. Yes, Knives Out is still interested in dissecting the mechanics of the mystery genre, just as The Last Jedi dissected Star Wars and Brick dissected film noir. But Knives Out, which drops in theatres November 27, 2019, is likely Johnson’s most purely pleasing picture, suffused with a sense of gleeful love for the genre.
Johnson loves the closed-room whodunit, a genre with literary roots in which a group of suspects are locked in a single location, a murder occurs, and it’s up to the detective (and reader) to deduce which member of the suspicious party is truly guilty. These types of mysteries serve as impressive showpieces for their writers, with their mastery of plot, character, and hidden information serving as the star. Plus, they invite the reader/viewer into their world more effectively than nearly any other genre. It’s just so much fun to align yourself with some of the world’s greatest detectives, solving the case alongside them. In celebration of this authorial mastery and reader/viewer synergy, I’ve compiled a list of some of the best closed-room murder mysteries ever made for the screen. If you have a great time at Knives Out, stumble upon your aunt’s Agatha Christie novels during Thanksgiving, and demand more — this is a great filmic place to start.