Written by Becca Johnson
After facing a little backlash for its casting and push backs due to the pandemic, Branagh's Death On The Nile finally hits cinemas on 11th February. Join us as we take a look at some of the best whodunit mysteries in cinema history that we can binge before the release!
Knives Out (2019)
Perhaps the most popular in the last few years, Knives Out is worth watching for its tremendous cast, dark humour and many twists and turns. Join Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) as he aims to solve the murder of crime novelist Harlan Thrombey, suspecting one of his family or dedicated members of staff is behind it. The script is incredibly witty from the get-go, featuring an intricate web of lies, drama, money and a cast of particularly unique and greedy characters who will stop at nothing to get a share of Thrombey's fortune. It looks great, it's edited beautifully and features some of the best performances in the genre from the likes of Toni Collette, Ana de Armas and Chris Evans. With sequels promised, the next arriving straight to Netflix this year, Knives Out should not be missed.
Carrying on with the humorous approach, Clue (based on Cluedo) finds six colourful dinner guests gathered at a mansion after being invited by Mr. Boddy, who winds up dead after the announcement that he was blackmailing them all. After quickly realising that the killer must be among them, the guests along with Mr. Boddy's butler must find out who's behind it before more guests meet their demise. Basing a movie on a board game sounds bizarre, but Clue proves this can work. It's packed with campy humour and jokes from start to finish, the witty script pairing well with excellent performances from the likes of Tim Curry and Eileen Brennan. The set design is gorgeous, the comedy is side splitting and the 80's vibe is hard not to love.
Mystic River (2003)
Differing massively in tone from our previous two entries, Mystic River tells the story of three men who were childhood friends, one of their lives becoming shattered when their daughter is murdered. However, the situation worsens when one of the friends becomes the main suspect. A perfect combination of murder mystery and character study, Mystic River is a heartbreaking and tense slow burn drama that allows its performances from Sean Penn, Tim Robbins and Kevin Bacon to shine through. Its tense atmosphere prevails and its gritty nature gives you something to get your teeth into. Mystic River is easily one of Clint Eastwood's best flicks, and one that has sadly flown under the radar for many.
After January's antics, cinema goers are probably all Scream'd out, but if there's a slight chance it hasn't been viewed by everyone on the planet, now is the time. Meta comedy, slasher movie and mystery thriller, Scream has something for all audiences. When a killer in a mask known as Ghostface begins murdering teenagers in the town of Woodsboro, Sidney Prescott and her friends must contemplate the rules of horror films to find the killer among them and stop the body count from rising. Scream will successfully make its audience laugh out loud and grimace, as its humour works just as well as its gory scenes. The kills are unique and entertaining, the characters created are so iconic and backed by terrific performances, and its both a slasher and whodunit staple.
Gone Girl (2014)
Directed by David Fincher, Gone Girl is probably the most twisted, shocking and surprising movie from this list. With his wife's disappearance being the forefront of all news outlets, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) see's the spotlight turned on him when it's suspected that he may not be innocent – is he behind her disappearance? Rosamund Pike's performance as Amy Dunne has gone down in history as one of the best of all time, and is one of the most notable characters ever put to film. The script releases it's twist in the middle of the movie rather than the end, letting its audience fully enjoy it and see how it plays out. The performances are exceptional from all involved, the twists and turns are wild and it has a bit of everything; crime, murder, drama, adultery, thriller and mystery. If by the off chance you haven't viewed it yet, it's worth your time.
Not for the faint of heart, Prisoners is probably the darkest and most violent from this list; yes, even darker than Scream and Gone Girl. When Keller Dover's (Hugh Jackman) young daughter and her friend go missing, he takes matters into his own hands and will stop at nothing to protect his family and locate his daughter. The police, fronted by Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) pursue multiple leads, but will their work be enough to locate the girls? Lead by two exceptional performances from Jackman and Gyllenhaal, Prisoners is a dark and gritty mystery thriller that will play on your mind months after viewing. It's violence and shock ending are at the forefront, but Jackman's dedication to finding his daughter goes much deeper than that.
The Nice Guys (2016)
It's time to lighten the tone, which crime comedy The Nice Guys definitely achieves. Set in 1970's Los Angeles, a private eye must investigate the apparent suicide of a fading porn star, and in doing so uncovers a huge conspiracy. The Nice Guys takes a buddy-cop approach, with leads Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling showcasing hilarious chemistry. It's fun and unique, with a script that will make its audience laugh out loud. The 70's setting is immersive, allowing for some fresh, bright set design to come through. Buddy cop movies can often be by the books, yet The Nice Guys offers something we haven't seen before. Angourie Rice (Spider-Man: Homecoming) kills it in her role as Holly March, Gosling's on-screen daughter, becoming the heart of the movie.
The Kid Detective (2020)
Lead by Adam Brody (Ready or Not), The Kid Detective tells the story of a once celebrated young detective who has now reached 31 and must solve his first 'adult' case; finding out who brutally murdered a naïve young ladies boyfriend. Brody's Abe Applebaum is the highlight of the movie, his wallowing in self-pity, alcohol and hangovers allowing for plenty of laughs. It's an interesting and unique watch that has an intriguing premise, hilarious dark comedy and good performances all round. It has slight pacing issues and needs a few screws tightened, but its still an enjoyable newer flick that unfortunately fell under the radar for many. For Brody alone, it's worth your time.
Rear Window (1954)
It goes without saying that Rear Window is one of the most loved and most famous whodunit's in cinema history, but it truly deserves it. In case you're unfamiliar, professional photographer L.B. 'Jeff' Jefferies (James Stewart) spends his time observing the neighbours out of his window after breaking his leg. When he begins to suspect a man across the courtyard may have murdered his wife, Jeff enlists the help of his girlfriend (Grace Kelly) and visiting nurse to investigate. The set design is Rear Window's best feature; the colours are vibrant and the doll-house style is tremendously effective. The single location plot succeeds, the performances are great and the tension and pay off in the end work wonders. Hitchcock isn't known as one of the greats for nothing.
We also recommend checking out Branagh's previous Poirot adaptation Murder on the Orient Express from 2017 before his new arrival, though this goes without saying. It may not be as good as many others on this list, yet it's undeniably fun with a huge cast and a decent twist ending, and will set the tone and get you in the mood for Death on the Nile. What whodunit mysteries do you recommend?