It’s a Weird Case from the Start. A Case With a Hole in the Center: Knives Out (2019)

Hey everybody, for this year we are doing something special: Sleuthing Sundays. Each Sunday I’ll post a film with a super sleuth! Our third film is:

It’s a weird case from the start. A case with a hole in the center. A doughnut.

So this was the first post I wrote for Horrorfest IX. I wrote it waaay back in January 2020, ah a more simpler time, when I was trying to get ahead. I usually try to do at list one post a month so I have nine ready when October rolls around to give me a little extra time in the month.

So back in January 2020, my friend called me up about wanting to hang out and I agreed. Last time we went to her place so I wanted to reciprocate with mine, but I had been working on Valentine’s Cards and had paper everywhere and a mess.

I’m a mess

To hide this I suggested going to the movies, (remember when we could do that?), and she agreed saying she had wanted to see Knives Out.

I heartily agreed as I love mysteries and the trailer made me think of those old Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple films from the ’70s.

Mystery, you say?

We went and saw it and I really enjoyed it, although there was one thing I did not like. The whole film from the text, color choices, decor, costumes, hairstyles (talking about you detectives with those sideburns) etc-evoked a late 1970s vibe to it, but it was set in modern times. It was extremely jarring to be watching and having all your senses set you in 1970 and then someone whips out an iPhone or talks about instagram. I think it would have been a bit better if they had just set it in the 1970s, but that’s just me.

I also didn’t like the vomit parts, but other than that I really enjoyed this film and have already seen it three times this year.

I also like how his had no romantic pair or love angle. It was refreshing to have the main characters just be about something else, than to have them get together in the end.

So the film starts off with a big birthday party for the family patriarch, Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer). He invited his whole family and his nurse, but the next day is found dead-throat slashed.

Lt. Elliot (Lakeith Stanfield) and Trooper Wagner (Noah Segan) are called on the scene and believe it to be suicide, (the Trooper is one of my favorite characters as he fanboys over all the Thrombey books), but then world renowned private investigator, Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) appears saying that he was delivered a note and cash, so he is here to investigate.

Time to get on the case!

Each person is taken aside and questioned, all having a motive-but which one did it?

Hmmm…

Linda Drysdale (Jamie Lee Curtis) is the eldest daughter and built a real estate company from the ground up (not really as she got the money from her dad). She was told that she would no longer receive any money and neither would her spendthrift son, Ransom (Chris Evans). She says she doesn’t care about herself or her son being cutoff, but is she lying? Could she kill him to protect her young?

Hmm…?

Richard Drysdale (Don Johnson), Linda’s husband is cheating on her and Harlan caught him. If Linda divorces him, he’ll have nothing (he signed a prenup). Could he have killed him to keep it a secret?

Hmm…

Hugh Ransom Drysdale (Chris Evans) was told by his grandfather that night that he was to be written out of th will. The two argued and he didn’t return until the will was read. Did he secretly return and kill him to protect his inheritance?

Hmm…from Saboteur

Joni Thrombey (Toni Collette) is the widow of Harlan’s middle son. She is famous on instagram and is a lifestyle guru. She has the followers, but still relies on Harlan to meet the cost of bills and day to day living. She’s been cheating him by getting twice as much money having the accountants give her her daughter’s college fees, while Harlan also pays straight to the school. He told Joni he was cutting her and Meg off. Did Joni kill him to keep the money?

Hmm…

Megan “Meg” Thrombey (Katherine Langford) found out about hr college fund being cut off. She also left and when she returned was seen to go straight to her bedroom. Could she had killed him so she could continue her schooling?

Hmmm…

Walter “Walt” Thrombey (Michael Shannon) is the youngest brother and in charge of his father’s publishing company. He is fired from the company as Harlan wants his son to be free to be his own person. Did he kill him to keep control and have the money? (This out of all the people I actually feel bad for. Where is he going to get a job now? How is he going to start over at his age?)

But P.I. Benoit Blanc believes that something is missing. He continues to search and forces nurse, Marta Cabrera, to join him on his investigations…but Marta ended up killing him when she switched his accidentally gave him the wrong medication. Harlan kills himself to protect her. So she is helping Blanc solve the murder she committed…oh no.

That’s not good.

I also love the white sweater that Ransom wears. It makes me think of the one Rod Taylor wears in The Birds.

 

The best part of the film, besides Trooper Wagner, was Craig’s character-Private Detective Benoit Blanc.

I could happily watch film after film of his character. I hope they make a sequel with him.

I liked the plot-but I did figure out the ending. Things just didn’t sit right with me of what they showed. I was whispering to me friend, when Blanc said the doughnut line and I was like, yes! That’s what I was thinking!!

Benoit Blanc: I spoke in the car about the hole at the center of this doughnut. And yes, what you and Harlan did that fateful night seems at first glance to fill that hole perfectly. A doughnut hole in the doughnut’s hole. But we must look a little closer. And when we do, we see that the doughnut hole has a hole in its center – it is not a doughnut hole at all but a smaller doughnut with its own hole, and our doughnut is not whole at all!

But it was great, and every time you watch it there is more that you pick up on. Like the symbolism of Go and the way Marta plays it becoming important later. There is more, so if you haven’t watched it yet-you should.

For more detectives, go to This Village is Full of Strange People: Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, Endless Night (2013)

For more Chris Evans, go to We’re Mad Scientists. We’re Monsters: Avengers, Age of Ultron (2015)

For more Jamie Lee Curtis, go to There’s Something in the Fog!: The Fog (1980)

For more Michael Shannon, go to Do You Ever Feel Like Your Life Has Turned into Something You Never Intended?: Nocturnal Animals (2016)

For more Christopher Plummer, go to Dracula. Not Myth, Nor Ravings of a Mad Irish Novelist, Oh No, He’s Real: Dracula 2000 (2000)

Do You Ever Feel Like Your Life Has Turned into Something You Never Intended?: Nocturnal Animals (2016)

Do you ever feel like your life has turned into something you never intended?

So when the trailer first aired I remember watching it and it catching my interest as they marketed it as a film noir/thriller.

Oh?

We added it at the library and a patron immediately checked it out. When he brought it back I asked him what he thought and he told me he did not like it. He thought it was a bomb and a waste of time never to be brought back again.

I heard what he said, but was still curious and wanted to watch it.

I should’ve listened.

This film was not good.

I really wanted to stop watching it but it was like when you see the police or ambulances on the side if the road, you can’t stop yourself from looking as a part of you just has to know.

So the film is told in three ways: Present, Novel, and Flashbacks. It is extremely artsy and just brimming over the top full of symbolism. I’m just going to skip it as it would take forever to discuss all the choices and what they mean in accordance to the film.

It has some extremely weird choices. The whole beginning is like 15 mins of naked fat women dancing. Seriously, no one needs to be that “artistic”. Mostly the thoughts going through my head in this film were “what am I watching?” “Why am I wasting my time on this?”

Why am I watching it.

Present:

So we start with Susan Morrow (Amy Adams). She is not happy with her life.

Years ago she married the man she loved, childhood friend Edward Sheffield (Jake Gyllenhaal), but left him when he didn’t provide the stability her upper class debutante background needed.

She left him for the handsome, charming, ambitious Hutton Morrow (yuck, Armie Hammer). I hate Armie Hammer as an actor, not person-I mean I don’t even know him. No matter the role I just find him insufferable and want to punch his smarmy face.

Anyways, Hutton seemed perfect-but that did not last.

Ugh

Their relationship is in tatters as he is always gone on “business”, they are going broke and have to sell their art collection, and yes he is cheating on her. Susan spends her days alone, lonely, bored, and unhappy. She has always regretted her choice to leave Edward, but even more now when she sees how badly she has chosen.

She has been thinking of Edward a lot lately, and speak of the devil-he finally reaches out to her after all these years. He was trying to write a book back when they were together, and he finally has finished one-one that will be published in a few months. He sends a proof to Susan to read-dedicating it to her and calling it Nocturnal Animals, his pet name for her.

She starts reading it, and soon it is the only thing that keeps her going each day-the story drawing her in and connecting to how she feels.

Novel:

Tony Hastings (Jake Gyllenhaal), his wife Laura (Isla Fisher), and daughter are all traveling to visit their aunt Martha. They decide to drive through the night, but are run off the road by some very dangerous guys.

The men attack them, yell, and abuse them and take off with the the women, stranding Tony in the middle of nowhere. When Tony manages to survive the desert and get help they discover his wife and child dead-beat, suffocated, and raped.

He and Detective Bobby Andes (Michael Shannon) team up to try and discover these murders, hunting them down. We see Tony’s grief, guilt, and struggle of what happened that night.

Flashbacks:

As Susan reads she remembers her life with Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal) more and more. How they ran into each other in grad school and she married him to find her way and because she loved him. How her mom warned her about their differences in thoughts and ambition. She remembers how things started to fall apart because she couldn’t believe in Edward. How he tried to fight for them. And how she made the biggest mistake of her life.

So yeah. I didn’t like this film at all. First of all there is no growth in the character of Susan. She marries Tony as she feels lost and likes his idealism, she goes with Hutton because of his stability, and then she is looking back at Edward because she wants romance. All she can think of is to run to a man to get away from her unhappiness. But the problem is her-not the men. She will always be unhappy until she can have some introspection. She should seriously consider just being by herself for a bit.

Get it together!

None of the other characters either really endeared me to them.

I did think Jake Gyllenhaal was phenomenal in this as the Tony Hastings’ character. I was blown away by his powerful performance and how he really captured the role.

Wow!

Plus where was the mystery???? Where????

And she aborted her husband’s baby! And to make that worse she had her lover she was cheating on her husband with take her!

I would just pass this film on by.

To start Horrorfest VII from the beginning, go to It’s the End of the World: The Birds (1963)

For the previous post, go to This is a Bad One, the Worst Yet. I Need the Old Blade Runner…: Blade Runner (1982)

For more Amy Adams, go to I Choose You: Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day (2008)