In an attempt to resurrect the “cozy” murder mystery genre, director Rian Johnson may have opened the door to something far bigger. The mystery he has crafted in Knives Out looks engaging, twisty, and very much in the style of Agatha Christie – so much so, that it makes one wonder how Kenneth Branagh will respond, in his upcoming adaptation of an actual Christie work: Death On The Nile. With so few of the classic detectives of literature being moved to the big screen (even Sherlock has been suspiciously absent from the scene recently), and with Knives Out looking to be a surefire hit as it lands a Rotten Tomatoes score high in the 90’s, there’s inevitably going to be conflict between Branagh’s Hercule Poirot and Daniel Craig’s new addition to the scene, the enigmatic Detective Benoit Blanc, both with critics and audiences.
There’s also a large possibility that Knives Out is only the first in a slew of Benoit Blanc mysteries: though Johnson would be hard-pressed to match the prolific mystery-writers of days gone by, he might not have such a difficult time at all surpassing the competition in theaters: gritty crime thrillers are popular, as are courtroom dramas on TV, but when was the last time you actually saw a cozy mystery movie?
The only significant difficulty I could see arising is that Johnson’s movie, as of right now, looks to be either intentionally satirical of, or unintentionally derivative of the classics. Leaving aside the dapper British detective with an oddly outdated name (and a killer green suit, with a bold purple tie), we also have:
The Real Estate Mogul – a staple of mysteries, here played by Jamie Lee Curtis in a blue velvet pantsuit (and absolutely rocking that pantsuit, by the way). Her husband, played by Don Johnson, is the Desperate Son-In-Law, drink in hand, dressed as a Texas oil-tycoon version of Professor Plum in all purple attire.
The Playboy – a foul-mouthed Chris Evans, with an amazing fashion sense. Seriously, where do you even buy a scarf like that? Where do you buy pinstripe pants in this day and age?
The Lifestyle Guru – Toni Collette, looking like a Twitter-savvy parody of Democratic Party candidate Marianne Williamson. Again, dressed to perfection in high-waisted purple balloon pants.
And so on and so on; an entire cast of familiar tropes and archetypes spiraling outwards from their dead patriarch (who might as well be Mr. Body from Clue). In fact, speaking of Clue, each of the character posters is deliberately color coded in what appears to be a nod to the classic murder mystery game. They’ve even got a giant mansion with secret passages and the like – and, for whatever reason, they’ve also got something that looks like Game Of Thrones‘ Iron Throne set up in their living room. In fact, if you’d like to see the posters (I could stare at them all day), you can see them all here.
I assume Johnson will subvert expectations and turn these tropes upside-down and inside-out, because he likes doing that – The Last Jedi speaks volumes about his bravery as a filmmaker. Perhaps he’s pulling a Neil Simon and writing a parody: though it looks serious, and the mystery looks rich with detail and layer, even if it appears quite simple on the surface. But while I don’t know whodunnit, I know this much: whoever Johnson’s costume designer is deserves an Oscar nomination at the very least, because…wow.
What did you think of the trailer? Will you see Knives Out in theaters? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Trailer Rating: 8/10