With the new film Death on the Nile coming out soon, it’s a good time to dust off your magnifying glass and open up some case files, as we take a look at the best murder mystery movies. Did your favorite detective make the list? Were the mysteries good enough to fool you? Keep reading and find out which murder mysteries made our Top 5.
How did I pick my Top 5? To quote Wadsworth from the movie Clue, “We’re trying to find out who killed him, and where, and with what.” The long and short is I took a look at each film’s detectives, was the who and why any good, how good was the mystery, and was the case easy to solve. These are my top 5 murder mystery films that I think have a strong case.
This was a last minute addition to the list. While doing a Scream franchise marathon to get ready for the newest movie (check out our THS review), I was reminded just how good this movie is. A slasher film where we don’t know who the slasher is and everyone is a suspect. Master filmmaker Wes Craven does a great job keeping us guessing who the killer is. At one point we detectives are pretty sure we know who it is and are ready to close the case, but then new evidence arrives around every corner and gives us doubts.
Another interesting aspect is that there are several different detectives on this case, all with different problem-solving approaches. The big twist ending was unexpected, and the Who and Why weren’t easy to solve with this one. Scream is a slasher flick, but that doesn’t hold it back from being a well done murder mystery.
Wes Craven Hot Take: I think the Scream series is better than his Elm Street series.
4. Rear Window
Rear Window: another masterpiece from Alfred Hitchcock. A murder mystery that unfolds from James Stewart’s apartment window. He’s wheelchair bound and this presents us detectives a unique challenge in solving this murder. The film costars another Hollywood icon in Grace Kelly, as Stewart’s love interest and fellow detective. The mystery isn’t so much the Who, as to the How and Why. Hitchcock does try and trick us detectives into doubting if we truly know who the killer is. (Stick to the facts, detectives!)
Having the story unfold from Stewart’s trapped view point turns up the suspense as the film goes on, leading us to the big twist as to why and how the crime came to be. Hitchcock was called the Master of Suspense for a reason, and this mystery just goes to show why he earned that nickname.
Hitchcock Experience: One of my favorite no longer theme park attractions was “Alfred Hitchcock: The Art of Making Movies” at Universal Studios Orlando. On the way out you could play the role of James Stewart and spy from your window as you tried to solve a crime.
3. Knives Out
When I first saw the preview for this old school-looking detective film I was very excited. Then I saw it was from Rian Johnson. Full confession, I consider Johnson a brilliant writer. But as a filmmaker overall I’ve struggled with him. The Last Jedi is the Star Wars movie I least enjoyed. I tried hard to get into Looper and its brilliant concept, but the flow threw me off and took me out of the film. But with Knives Out, Rian Johnson won me over big time.
The film has great dialogue, one of the best casts in a film, and a mystery that kept this detective guessing. The film over time holds up for me and always entertains. It feels old school with its approach, and I think that makes it so unique to the mysteries we get lately. Daniel Craig’s detective is one of the best movie detectives and I’m glad his character will keep on solving cases. The reveal was a mystery I was unable to solve.
Rian Johnson Underrated: Check out Johnson’s movie Brick. It is a very underrated film noir, crime mystery movie. A modern take on old school film noir detective movies.
After Alien 3, very talented filmmaker David Fincher gave us this epic masterpiece, Se7en. The film has a gritty 70’s cop movie feel, with legends Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt playing our lead detectives. The odd couple relationship between the two makes the case harder to solve, but the movie more interesting.
The film’s dark crimes that follow the seven deadly sins is a great concept for a movie. The Who twist is good, but it ends up not even being the biggest twist of the film. The climax of the movie is still quoted and still hits hard when watching. This film was on my list right when I thought of best murder mysteries.
Favorite Fincher: My favorite film from David Fincher is The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
Clue was my first thought for films to have on my list. Full disclosure, I’m not very good at the board game and my detective skills are very weak. The stage musical is a very fun time, and highly recommended.
For those who don’t know, this film has alternate endings. When I watch the movie I always select the version that plays all three endings. The film is a lot of fun, hilarious, with many great quotes, and some of the best comedic performances in a movie. Adapting a board game into a movie couldn’t have been easy, but they took the perfect approach. The Who is a lot of fun, and even changes depending on the version you watch. The Why and How also change on the version you watch. Some might see it as a weakness that there are alternate options and endings, but I think that adds to the fun times.
Who, Where, What: My go to board game guess is Colonel Mustard, Library, Candlestick.
Case closed detectives. Did your favorite make the list? If not let’s hear what your Top 5 would be. That Hashtag Show wants to hear from their fellow detectives. I hope you had fun opening these case files and exploring what I think are the best murder mysteries.
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