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Looking for more whodunits after tonight’s episode of Chucky? SYFY WIRE has you covered with a roundup of eight murder mystery films to check out if Jennifer Tilly’s killer party in Beverly Hills left you hungry for more sleuthing.
We’ve got the classic Agatha Christie-style tales of homicide: the eclectic collection of shady suspects and the sharp-witted detective looking to single out the perp. Should you be in the market for something a little different, we also have a number of subversive and genre-bending takes on the well-trodden formula.
Break out that pipe, deerstalker cap, and magnifying glass, dear reader, and let's get down to work!
Films based on board games rarely, if ever, work out. Clue isn’t exactly an exception to this rule, but Paramount’s decision to shoot different endings to screen at different theaters remains one of the coolest experiments in Hollywood history. And come on — you've got an ensemble cast made up of Tim Curry, Christopher Lloyd, Michael McKean, Martin Mull, Lesley Ann Warren, Madeline Kahn, and Eileen Brennan! Did the butler do it in the parlor with the candlestick? Was it Colonel Mustard with the lead pipe? It all depends on where you saw the movie!
Ah yes, the movie that saved David Fincher’s Hollywood career after the disappointment of Alien 3. This nihilist neo-noir doesn’t pull any punches as it sends homicide detectives Somerset (Morgan Freeman) and Mills (Brad Pitt) down a rabbit hole of grisly murders inspired by the Seven Deadly Sins. The new partners must face down the evil lurking within all of us while tracking a madman through the rain-soaked streets of a nameless city that could be any town in America. Fincher’s message is clear: It doesn’t matter where you live, depravity thrives no matter the circumstances, and happy endings are the dreams of fools.
A costumed crime-fighter falls to his death and a lone detective, the mentally unstable Rorschach, takes on the case. Why? Because no one else will. The apparent suicide of Edward Blake, aka The Comedian, stinks to high heaven. Something else is going on here. It’s the classic noir set-up, but the conspiracy lying at the end of the trail is anything but. Rorschach follows the clues, interrogating his old colleagues, including the omnipotent Doctor Manhattan, in an effort to discover whether Blake jumped…or was pushed. Director Zack Snyder’s adaptation of the seminal graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons provides a brooding, gritty, and perhaps just a bit too stylized odyssey through a version of the late 20th century that never was.
Murder on the Orient Express (2017)
Along with Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot is the grandaddy of all modern sleuths. Agatha Christie’s classic tale of a killer (or perhaps killers) lurking aboard a European locomotive is as tightly-plotted and paced as stories like this can be. Director Kenneth Branagh tackles the source material with a stellar cast and retro execution glossed up with some contemporary Hollywood sheen. The limited setting lends a feeling of claustrophobia as Poirot puts his incredibly sharp mind to the case. An impressive box office draw of over $350 million promoted 20th Century Fox to green-light a sequel, Death on the Nile, which arrived in theaters earlier this year via Disney’s rebranded 20th Century Studios. A third chapter, A Haunting in Venice, is currently underway with an ensemble that includes Kyle Allen, Camille Cottin, Jamie Dornan, Tina Fey, Jude Hill, Ali Khan, Emma Laird, Kelly Reilly, Riccardo Scamarico, and Michelle Yeoh.
Bad Times at the El Royale (2018)
Writer-director Drew Goddard’s intricately-woven web of deceit, murder, and Manson-y cults doesn’t get talked about enough, and that’s a downright shame. This Tarantino-esque caper comprised of interconnected stories set against the backdrop of a seedy motel in the waning days of the "Flower Power" era kicks all kinds of ass, expertly ramping up the intrigue and suspense with an insanely talented ensemble. Everyone has come to this bizarre establishment that straddles the border between California and Nevada for a very specific purpose. But to explain why would be to spoil all the fun. Check into the El Royale, and thank us later.
Knives Out (2019)
Rian Johnson’s irreverent interpretation of the classic Christie format paid off in a big way: almost half a billion dollars from Netflix to write and direct a pair of sequels, to be exact. But before Glass Onion opens next month, check out the film that introduced the world to Daniel Craig’s Benoit Blanc, a gentleman detective who is equal parts Columbo and Foghorn Leghorn. When the murder mystery author patriarch of a wealthy family turns up dead, Blanc strolls up to the swanky estate to find out which deplorable member of the Thromby clan committed the murder most foul.
Murder Mystery (2019)
Screenwriter James Vanderbilt (Zodiac) deconstructs the Christie formula in this comedy about two regular individuals — Nick and Audrey Spitz (played by Adam Sandler and Jennifer Anniston, respectively) — who find themselves caught up in a larger-than-life homicide involving a cadre of colorful suspects. Nick and Audrey serve as the voice of the audience, poking fun at the posh mystique surrounding classic whodunits.
The Batman (2022)
Writer-director Matt Reeves’ Chinatown-meets-Se7en return to the Dark Knight’s gumshoe roots is certainly worth the nearly 3-hour investment. To see a less experienced version of the Caped Crusader digging into a string of murders that point to an immense conspiracy within Gotham City’s halls of power does justice to the name of the publisher that first gave the world Batman: Detective Comics. Dark, gritty, and just a shade hopeful, The Batman proves that there are still riches to be mined from the 83-year-old superhero.
New episodes of Chucky premiere on SYFY and USA Network every Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET. The complete first season is now streaming on Peacock.