The Unforgivable Mistakes of ‘Knives Out’

I needed to find a way to justify my 3/10(now 4) score for Knives Out. So I did it all in here with bullet points so I can feel better. I’m better now

I think it’s safe to say that the number one rule of film criticism is to never say “I don’t like this film.” Especially when it’s a universally beloved film by an acclaimed director with a rabid fanbase. You’ve gotta be organized with your “whys” and “hows”.

I have battled with my “whys” and “hows” for the past six months ever since I saw Rian Johnson’s Knives Out for the first time. “What’s the fuzz about?”

I knew I didn’t enjoy it like I thought I would (because it was actually high on my list of most anticipated 2019 films and um, I’m a fan of Whodunnits, I think). Why didn’t I love Knives Out — the so-called ‘best movie of 2019’ by a section of the internet? That question throbbed my mind every single time film and criticism comes up, and also because I didn’t originally write a review.

So, a few days ago, I took my worries to Facebook, my favorite confession box. And right there, on the walls of one of the best groups for cinephiles, Movies Domain, I poured my heart out about how I dislike the film and I gave it a score of 3 out of 10. I was happy that I finally said it: I don’t think Knives Out is as good as you all claim. I was satisfied with myself… Until the comment section rolled into the frame.

“You know, there are some movies that divides opinion, some might find it good, others might find it bad. This isn’t one of those movies.” One user wrote. “If you think it’s bad, then you are the problem.” He concluded. (It’s a family over there in Movies Domain. We pretty much all know each other.)

Someone even said I should go write my own (granted, I claimed I could have written a better Whodunnit but it was all just to make my point.) Everyone in the comment section loved Knives Out. So, I finally got the push I needed to get the answers to my questions (my “whys” and “hows”). I went back and saw it for the second time. And here we are.

I returned to the group and dropped what you’re about to read and no one’s said anything since. The unforgivable sins of Knives Out. I didn’t write a review but there were loads of sins committed in this film which is why I didn’t like it the first time. The quality was inconsistent. One minute it’s a top-notch production with a star-studded cast, the next minute it’s a schlocky film with Tyler Perry-esque mistakes. Whatever reasons you have for liking this film, know that this piece isn’t even trying to cancel them out. It’s still that expertly written mystery-thriller with wonderful directing and acting.

So with that context, let me offer you my best attempt at Movie Sins.

If you came here to read a review, I’m sorry but this is just bulletpoints of mistakes I couldn’t overlook and these are your everyday mistakes but it’s Knives Out, right? It’s either good or excellent, they said.

So shall we?

Back to the suicide, he slashed his neck and blood flew all the way from the chair he was lying to her shoe when she’s standing by the door. Rewatch and look at the distance from the chair to the door.

  • Johnson used the creaking stairs and Linda Drysdale (Lee Curtis) being a light sleeper for dramatic effects but he didn’t keep his end of the bargain. When Martha walked down the stairs as Harlan, it creaked. When she was returning, she ran back up. Harlan is too old to run. Why didn’t Linda become suspicious since creaks would be louder and fast-paced if someone’s running?
  • In that same event, Walt Thrombey (Shannon) who’s smoking outside tells their Dad to “go back to bed.” When the detective was recounting the events, the man’s wearing a brown robe. But when Martha dressed up as Harlan to go down the stairs, she’s wearing a black and red striped night robe. (and how could Harlan predict his son was gonna tell him to go back to bed. Just… How?) This film isn’t supposed to make us suspend belief but it did.
  • The foreshadowings were forced. Every single foreshadowing was ‘in ur face.’ Locations and details were blurted out that you’d know it’s a setup for a future callback if you’re paying close attention. E.g. the Stash, the retractable Knives.
  • And talk about the suicide. How come Harlan’s not as smart as promised? First, he gave every single member of his family reasons to kill him: hey, you, I’m firing you. You, no more money from me. You, you are out of my will. I’m making my maid the sole heir. No smart person gives the details of his will to his grandson who’s been exempted but I’m sure the filmmaker and fans will have some sort of moral cinematic excuse to explain this out.
  • And speaking of blood, the incident happened one week before Blanc (Craig, who I’m not praising for that accent but would love to do an impression of) showed up. Which means Martha had one week to wash that shoe. Okay, let’s say she didn’t go out for one week because she’s grieving… how come the blood is still that red and screaming after one week? It’s a drop. I’d ask you to stain your All-star boots with blood but I’ve already asked too much of you.
  • Another inconsistency is the timing of her vomits. She pukes when she lies or even think of lying but the timing varied throughout the film from ‘immediately’ to after my saliva dries up.
  • Blanc brings a suspect with him throughout the investigation. Dude is bad at his job because she constantly destroys his evidences.
  • How does everyone know the backdoor to Martha’s house when they’ve never been there (Walt and Ransom) yet the press is standing dumb outside? Journalists are the smartest and most invasive people on film and tv.
  • Ransom burned down the M.E. office. “Where’s the evidence to show who did it?” The detective pointed to a burnt security camera. Well, I’m damn sure even a kid knows the recordings are NOT in the camera but saved elsewhere.

Alright, there you have it. Were you able to answer some of the questions I raised? Let’s fight it out in the comment section.

So what did I like about Knives Out? The dialogue. The subtle references at class and white supremacy. Chris Evans. And the music. I ended up bumping my score up to 4. And I feel much better now.

Okiki Adeduyite

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