The principle of a film based on an enigma or a murder has existed for a bunch of years, this genre is called the “whodunit” in English (“who did it”) and big names in literature have given it its letters nobility (Agatha Christie, Conan Doyle, Higgins Clark). So we’re going to make a short list of good films to watch to try to find the culprits, because it’s not always the gardener or the falsely weeping widow.
Millenium – Men Who Didn’t Love Women (David Fincher)
Already I strongly advise you to read the three books of this very gripping saga, and concerning the film we are completely in the theme: a family with secrets, the strange disappearance of a child years ago, an investigation on a lost island … In short, if you haven’t seen (or read) go for it with your eyes closed, it’s an investigation full of twists and turns and if you’re a fan you can see the original Swedish-Danish version AND the American version.
Murder on the Orient Express (Kenneth Branagh)
Quite classic, given that it is one of Agatha Christie’s most emblematic novels, the 2017 film (or that of 1974) retains all the sap of the story: a murder takes place in the Orient Express and all the passengers are suspicious, but investigator Hercule Poirot is fortunately there to find out which villain did the trick with his super-developed brain.
Glass Onion (Rian Johnson)
It was the big streaming success of the end of 2022, the film that everyone had to see very quickly before getting spoiled because necessarily this kind of scenario keeps some surprises and it would be stupid to have the outcome spoiled . We saw the story of a billionaire organizing a murder party that went completely peanut, all with a hell of a cast and Daniel Craig in his best swimsuit.
Blow Out (Brian De Palma)
Brian De Palma directed this little masterpiece in which John Travolta plays a sound engineer who despite himself records the sounds of a crime and tries to solve a murder case. Needless to tell you more, it’s clearly worth watching even if I grant you it is closer to the investigative film than the traditional “whodunit”.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit (Robert Zemeckis)
Completely obliged to quote this masterpiece of Robert Zemeckis in this top, because it has all the codes of the genre and even has fun with it. A story of disappearances, toons, disillusioned detective and all this done with a revolutionary animation technique for the time and some cult scenes. And then there’s baby Herman, just that’s worth it.
At Knives Out (Rian Johnson)
more traditional than Glass Onion in the genre, the first film of this new saga took up even more hackneyed codes: a murdered millionaire, an old mansion, a family member who did it, stories of inheritances… But it was well done and above all it launched the adventures of Benoit Blanc that we will find in a third part already announced.
The Mystery of the Yellow Room (Bruno Podalydès)
Small French entry in this top with the film adapted from the novel by Gaston Leroux which even Agatha Christie had praised. The film is worth what it’s worth and tells the story of a detective and his assistant who investigate the mysterious disappearance of a young woman in the family castle. Classic, but at the same time it was one of the first of its kind.
A corpse for dessert (Robert Moore)
This parody of the genre actually hides a real (good) “whodunit”. By not only taking up the codes, the film also parodies its emblematic characters (a fake Hercule Poirot, a fake Miss Marple) by taking them to the mansion of a wealthy eccentric to solve a case. It’s classic but the parody side works perfectly.
Death on the Nile (Kenneth Branagh)
Second part of the adventures of Hercule Poirot directed and played by Kenneth Branagh, Death on the Nile was still less gripping than its big brother but remained entertaining and mysterious, everything you ask for in this kind of film. In addition, it was well filmed and the cast did its job well.
Bad Times at El Royale (Drew Goddard)
Nice film with a rhythmic soundtrack, Bad weather at El Royale features a cast of diverse characters trapped in a lost hotel on a stormy night, all with their own secrets and particular intentions. As a very hectic evening takes shape that I won’t spoil you, I can only tell you that Chris Hemsworth is shirtless there and that I have developed a lot of complexes since.
Identity (James Mangold)
Strangers find themselves stranded in a hotel as a storm rages, which clearly brings to mind the context of Bad weather at El Royale and yet it is nothing. Identity plays a lot more on the string of the mysterious thriller and it works rather well, it’s up to you to see if the finale will please you because it divided a lot of spectators.
Cluedo (Jonathan Lynn)
Yes, it’s exactly the same name as the famous board game since the film was directly inspired by it. We find Madame Blanche and Colonel Mustard there but also all the other characters who dress in the same color as their last name in a classic investigation but who at least will speak to all people who know the game.
Kiss Kiss Bang (Shane Black)
Half investigation, half comedy, this film by Shane Black (The lethal Weapon) signed the great return of Robert Downey JR in the list of bankable actors in Hollywood but failed to bring back this good old Val Kilmer among us. It’s the story of a failed actor who prepares for a role by wanting to be inspired by a detective and teams up with him by following him on a murder case to draw inspiration from him. It’s super funny.
Scream (Wes Craven)
Placing itself equally well in the genre of slashers than in that of whodunit, Scream reinvented its own genre by reserving surprises that I will not spoiler (but still it would be time to see it). The first obviously remains the best of the saga, and there are plenty of secrets on the set of Scream which I advise you to go and see.
The Hateful Eight (Quentin Tarantino)
“An Agatha Christie among the cowboys”, this is how we could sum up Quentin Tarantino’s film. A host of colorful characters snowbound in a shelter must quickly guess who tried to poison the others, which is classic but works quite well with the paw and the Tarantine-esque dialogues.
They were ten (Craig Viveiros)
The real film that started the trend, once again adapted from a novel by Agatha Christie (her most famous), the famous film where ten different characters find themselves on an island invited by a mysterious courier. The work has also been the subject of a series adaptation by the BBC and it is clearly worth it for those who have more difficulty with black and white films.
Brick (Rian Johnson)
The very first film from the director of At loggerheads was already a true low-budget “whodunit” with a young Joseph Gordon Levitt investigating the murder of his girlfriend by getting entangled in a dangerous case. Small budget but good scenario, it looks good.
A bundle of great cinema classics
For fans of old Hollywood, you might feel a bit frustrated not to see some movies like Psychosis, The Maltese Falcon, The third man, The big sleep or Courtyard window, Chinatown and Charade. For those who are interested, we simply recommend them all, including the two where you will discover the immeasurable class of Humphrey Bogart.