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Rewind: Mystery Films That are Better the Second Time Through

Mystery Films

A Look at Mystery Films With Incredible Rewatchability

Movies are composed of many elements. Everything from writing, cinematography, lighting, sets, and acting can be scrutinized and analyzed, adding to a deeper appreciation of the film. That being said, there are quite a few films where a second viewing is absolutely necessary in order to appreciate all of these components and understand exactly why they’re being used. Mystery films, in particular, use all of the tools at their disposal to impart to the audience the clues that they need to solve the case. Below are five top picks for mystery films that require a second watch.

5. Murder By Death (1976)

An older film, but one worth watching, Murder By Death takes some famous detective tropes and creates a humorous, almost scathing parody of them. Characters like Sam Diamond (Peter Falk) and Tess Skeffington (Eileen Brennan) are clear spoofs on hardboiled detective tropes, while Milo Perrier (James Coco) and Jessica Marbles (Elsa Lanchester) are parodies of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot and Jane Marple.  

Though the plot and mystery are vague, if not entirely obscure, the ending of the film provides a critical meta-commentary on the “Golden Age” of the detective genre, pointing out its flaws and implausible devices. The most compelling part of the film is its all-star cast and the ridiculous antics they get up to. Rewatching the film is helpful for picking up all of the detective fiction elements that are being made fun of; lines of dialogue and quirky jokes exaggerate the standard components of these various mystery styles. Pinpointing those adds to the effect of the film overall.

4. Death on the Nile (2022)

Agatha Christie’s beloved stories have been getting a recent reboot. The second of the series so far, Death on the Nile features gorgeous scenery, stellar acting talent, and a few twists and turns that make it unique from the original story. Newly-weds Linnet Ridgeway (Gal Gadot) and Simon Doyle (Armie Hammer) are stalked by Simon’s ex, Jackie (Emma Mackey) during their honeymoon.  Thankfully, Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) is on the trip with them as the bodies begin to pile up.

This movie is appealing, not only because of how visually stunning it is, but because of the new material it brings to the beloved story. New characters and revised dynamics among them keep the story fresh and interesting, making it an exciting watch. even for people who love the original book or the 1978 movie adaptation.  The only torturous part of rewatching the film is remembering all of the characters who die along the way.

3. Clue (1985)

Another old film, but a fan- favorite, Clue is just a delight all the way through. Again studded with an all-star cast, it takes the characters of the famous board game (adding a mysterious butler named Wadsworth, played by Tim Curry) and makes an actual story out of them. “Who did it, where, and with what” become the three main questions as people keep dying and the group of seven scramble to piece together the mystery. It’s funny, smart, and aesthetically pleasing.

Mystery Films That are Better the Second Time Through

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What makes the film rewatchable is the fact that it has multiple endings. In its original release, only one ending was shown to audiences, meaning that they could return to the theaters at a later date and perhaps see an alternate version of how the plot was resolved. Though it wasn’t a very popular technique and the film didn’t do spectacularly in theaters, it’s a unique idea, and it makes the film that much more interesting. The DVD release allows viewers to pick one of two options — either all endings can be viewed or one is picked at random. After seeing just one of the endings, it was really interesting to see how parts of the movie supported that resolution. Going back and picking up on the clues that make sense for each ending makes the film extremely rewatchable.

2. See How They Run (2022)

Focused on an Agatha Christie-style mysteries, See How They Run focuses on the theatrical cast of The Mousetrap.  When a film director intent on adapting the play for the screen is murdered, the police are called in to figure out “whodunit” before it’s too late. The film acknowledges a lot of the standard elements of the mystery genre and subverts most of them. The narrator of the beginning of the film is not the detective and doesn’t actually play a very large role in the film. While Inspector Stoppard (Sam Rockwell) is the stereotypical gruff policeman, his partner, Constable Stalker (Saoirse Ronan) is the complete opposite — talkative, funny, somewhat awkward, and new to the job. They present a wonderful dynamic that keeps audiences engaged in the rest of the movie.

The cinematography alone makes the film worth rewatching. During some of the scenes, the camera splits off to follow different lines of action, which can make things a little hard to follow if you’re watching for the first time. The ending of the movie is also well done and hinted at throughout the film. Going back to find all the details and see how everything actually connects is one of the main draws to rewatch the film. The style of comedy and the beauty of the various settings also adds to the appeal and rewatchability.

1. Knives Out (2019)

Marta Cabrera (Ana de Armas) works for Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) as his nurse. When he dies, an investigation is launched, and famous detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) aids the police in discovering what truly happened.

This film is perhaps the best example of needing to rewatch it in order to pick up all of the clues. Random parts of the movie prove to be relevant, everything pointing towards the answer the entire time. All of the clues are there for viewers to find and piece together along with Blanc, but it can take a few viewings of the film to notice all of them. The movie itself is also very nuanced, with various character perspectives showing different versions of events, requiring audiences to push past all of the lies and biases to find the truth. It is a compelling film with a colorful cast of characters and an intriguing mystery that calls for multiple viewings.

The art of cinema is one that juggles many different elements in order to tell a story. The complexity of the medium means that there are always details missed during the first experience of it. The films listed here are only the tip of the iceberg. There are so many movies that deserve multiple watch-throughs in order to fully appreciate the effort that went into creating them.

Mystery Films That are Better the Second Time Through

Source: Dead Talk Live

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Cailen Fienemann is a current student at Le Moyne College pursuing her BA in English and Communications with a film studies minor and a creative writing concentration.  Though uncertain about her career end-goals, any job that allows her to write is a cherished one indeed.