I love murder mysteries.
They’re one of my secret—or not so secret—passions. Agatha Christie books, Monk, Father Gilbert, Sherlock Holmes . . . I’ve enjoyed them all, and I’m generally not too picky. As long as there’s a mystery to solve and a plot that keeps me guessing, I’m in.
So, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the first script I started with in my ‘year of scripts’ was Knives Out.
I love Knives Out. My sister and I went to see the film when it came out in theaters—way back when we still lived together, I was single, and theaters were still a thing—and we loved it. Every single minute of it. I can’t remember being so tense in my chair during an entire movie in years.
I didn’t go to a chiropractor afterward, but I probably should have.
Reading the script now, years later, was every bit as enjoyable, but in a completely different way.
The story revolves around Marta Cabrera, a nurse who caretakes for Harley Thrombey, a wealthy mystery writer whose dysfunctional family hovers around him, waiting for handouts from his vast fortune. When Thrombey is murdered, Marta is recruited to help solve his murder by private detective Benoit Blanc, uncovering along the way an abundance of family secrets and conflicts that would be more than enough motive for a murder.
Since this is a murder mystery and the whole point of a murder mystery is to keep you guessing, I won’t say anymore. The movie, suffice to say, kept me on pins and needles all the way through, and the script—well, the script was a whole new experience in itself.
See, reading scripts is different than you would expect. The structure is anything but formulaic, and some of them—the really good ones—show a whole new dimension to the work in the form of writing style, character descriptions, and details that are so, so easy to miss when you’re watching a film for the first or even second time. Depending on the draft you were able to find—because obviously, screenplays go through multiple drafts in development—the story might be quite different than you remember from watching the film, and you get to experience the tweaks, adjustments, and even flat-out rewrites done by the director during filming or when the film was edited.
Knives Out had plenty of cut scenes that were written in—possibly even filmed—and then cut later to streamline the final product. Reading them now, after I’d seen the movie itself several times, helped clear up a few areas of confusion, as well as flesh out character arcs that, although interesting, didn’t impact the main plot enough to remain in the final product. Definitely good information when it comes to knowing what to cut and what is essential to a story!
Did you see Knives Out, in theaters or afterward? How did you like it? Tell me about it in the comments!