3 Best Murder Mystery Movies to Watch

Staff & contributors

The single-take conceit of this high-camp whodunnit set in the world of competitive hairdressing is not without its knots. Without the charity of a cut, it falls on the screenplay to pull us through the film’s murder mystery in real-time, and the result contains more than a few inorganic segues, despite the cast’s best efforts at smoothing things out. What’s more, when the mystery does eventually unravel, it feels unsatisfying in a way that even a heavy round of conventional editing couldn’t resolve.

And yet, with its very game cast; razor-sharp one-liners; inspired hairdos; Robbie Ryan’s wheeling, smartly perspective-hopping cinematography; and a wry chamber-piece premise — in the midst of a cutthroat contest, a senior stylist is found with his scalp removed — Medusa Deluxe still bristles with passion and wit. It’s abundantly clear that first-time director Thomas Hardiman and his crew are as ostentatiously die-hard about their film as the catty characters are about their hair design, and the sheer force of their enthusiasm is enough to zhuzh up even the plot’s flattest moments. A feature debut doesn’t often come without flaws, but it’s equally as rare for one to be as boldly ambitious or as irreverently fun as this.

Genre: Comedy, Crime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller

Actor: Anita-Joy Uwajeh, Clare Perkins, Darrell D'Silva, Harriet Webb, Heider Ali, John Alan Roberts, Kae Alexander, Kayla Meikle, Lilit Lesser, Luke Pasqualino, Michelle Parker, Nicholas Karimi

Director: Thomas Hardiman

, 2023

It seems unfair to call Neeyat India’s (and Amazon Prime’s) answer to the Knives Out series of films, but it often feels that way. It’s a murder mystery that sides with the poor and satirizes the rich, and it mostly takes place in a grand manor that forces its colorful cast of characters to interact until, inevitably, their hidden motives surface. Of course, Neeyat isn’t an exact replica; it has its own inflections and charms, and figuring out how India’s ultra-rich live, specifically, is its own kind of fun. In fact, this is when the film shines the most, when it allows its talented cast to parade the silliness of their characters. Like Knives Out, it makes for a great ensemble movie. But as a murder mystery, Neeyat is not as successful in weaving multiple mysteries and pulling off twists. It’s bogged down by unnecessary melodrama, flashbacks, and exposition, eventually falling off the rails of logic. It’s still enjoyable, for sure, but maybe more as a campy comedy than as a genuinely thrilling mystery. 

Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller

Actor: Amrita Puri, Dipannita Sharma, Neeraj Kabi, Niki Aneja Walia, Prajakta Koli, Rahul Bose, Ram Kapoor, Shahana Goswami, Shashank Arora, Shefali Shah, Vidya Balan

Director: Anu Menon