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The Scroll

The Knives Out Mysteries: With Detectives and Idiots Alike

These are killer movies; literally.
Glass+Onion+is+the+second+Knives+Out+Mystery+movie
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“Glass Onion” is the second “Knives Out” Mystery movie

Fall is always a good time for murder mysteries and thrillers, and I love a good murder mystery. The guessing games, the questioning who might have done it, and the fun of getting it right is such a good experience.However, stereotypical mystery movies have a specific structure to them. The murder happens, a detective (or a bunch of random teens, in the case of “Riverdale”) comes along, and it’s solved in an obvious but genius way. My two favorite murder mysteries are stories about Benoit Blanc, a world-famous detective, serving as the investigator in both. One of the films adheres to this formula, and the other destroys it completely.
“Knives Out,” the first movie in this duology, does seem to follow this structure until looked at more closely. The plot follows Marta Cabrera, the Latina caretaker of Harlan Thrombey, who is a rich novelist grandpa of a big family. This family is the definition of dysfunctional. Everyone has a reason to kill Harlan, and everyone remembers everything differently. The ability to see everyone’s perspective and how it shifts between them provides a look into what everyone thinks happens, and confuses the audience as to what actually happens.
The plot of this movie follows the structure of common murder mysteries, with the murder then the solving. However, the constant change in perspective adds a sense of unreliability for every one of the characters, so that the audience isn’t sure who to trust. It adds a deeper layer into the plot.
Despite the fact that it is similar to many murder mysteries, it still feels like a wildly different type of mystery. Part of it might be the odd ending, with the murder not quite being a murder. It’s such an unexpected way to do things in a familiar format, and it makes it incredibly fun to watch.
Then there’s “Glass Onion,” which is almost the exact opposite of “Knives Out.” The structure, for one thing, is different. We don’t actually learn about the murder Blanc is trying to solve until the middle of the story, just that he was “invited” to something. Turns out, Andi Brand, the co-owner of a technology company with Miles Bron, was killed by Miles to keep her from showing the world proof of the company being her intellectual property. She, and a bunch of other rich people go to an island for a getaway that Miles planned. Someone dies, and then we find out the twist of the movie, and the whole string unravels.
The best part of this movie is Blanc’s rant about how dumb Miles is. Miles got lucky at every step of the way. He makes up words, makes factual errors, and generally steals all his ideas for his crimes from someone else, and somehow almost got away with it. It’s exactly who the audience thought would do it, which is why no one thought he did. It subverts expectations by following expectations. The whole thing leaves the audience unsatisfied for a good mystery, yet utterly amused by the audacity of Miles.
I love that Blanc takes away any credit Miles could’ve gotten for cleverness of the crimes themselves by pointing out the idiocy of Miles and his ideas. The movie provides humor within a murder mystery, with no real mystery except the one being fabricated by the red herrings. I also love the end, where they are destroying Miles’s stuff, and start getting worried about breaking more stuff than they were expecting even though they’ve been calling themselves ‘disruptors.’ The tie-ins to other parts of the movie are truly astounding.
The whole movie misleads us from the start. We see Blanc meeting “Andi,” we see him getting the invitation. We have no idea that Andi and Blanc know each other, because they remove all scenes of them interacting beyond the surface level. This also works to make the audience blind to what doesn’t fit with their narrative. Blanc calls her Helen right in front of the audience’s face, foreshadowing the twist of the movie, and most of the audience doesn’t notice or hear that the first time. Certain scenes are taken out to make reality warp however the directors want, and it works incredibly well. The whole thing is very humorous, while having a murder mystery feel for the first half of it.
These two movies go together in a way not many movies go together. The complexity and mystery of the first one combined with the idiocy and hilarity of the second provides an incredible movie night. I love both of these movies in different ways. I’m looking forward to more movies in this universe, and seeing what Benoit gets up to.

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About the Contributor
Eliza Janssen, Writer
  I am an avid reader and writer, and love learning about what's going on in the world. I love experiencing the community in Fargo, and talking to people around. The Scroll is a great place for me to put my thoughts and talents to great use! I enjoy talking with my fellow staff about what to put in the paper and what people want, and it has been a great time!
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