WARNING: There are obviously huge SPOILERS ahead for Rian Johnson’s “Knives Out.”
So if you’re yet to indulge in the delightful mystery movie, which has rightfully been touted as one of the best movies of the year, then, please, click off this article, go and enjoy “Knives Out” and then return to read the below.
“Knives Out” is a movie that keeps you guessing all the way to the end.
At first glance, it appears as though Christopher Plummer’s Harlan Thrombey, a successful and very wealthy mystery writer who was constantly hounded by his three children and their offspring, committed suicide. Which, it turns out, is actually true.
That’s because, about a third of the way into the movie, it is revealed that Harlan’s beloved nurse Marta Cabrera (Ana de Armas) accidentally gave him a deadly dose of morphine, which meant he only had a few minutes to live. During this time, Harlan gives Marta precise instructions for how to get away with unintentionally killing him, before then slicing his own throat.
Marta follows these directions, which sees her point out the exact time as she leaves, drive away, park up her car, return to the mansion through a side entrance, climb through a secret window, dress up as Harlan in his coat and hat, and then go downstairs. When Marta does just that the bottom stair creaks very loudly, which provokes Harlan’s son Walter (Michael Shannon) to think he’s seeing his father and shout at him to go to bed. Thus, he’s seen alive after Marta has left, and Marta is ruled out as a suspect.
However, Daniel Craig’s Detective Benoit Blanc knows that something is amiss. He doesn’t suspect Marta, though, because whenever she lies she vomits. In fact, after making it through her interrogation without being sick, Blanc asks Marta to assist him and his fellow officers.
Things are muddled even further when it is revealed that Harlan has left everything he owns, from his lavish house to his millions in the bank and even his very, very lucrative publishing company, to Marta. This was something that Chris Evans’ Hugh “Ransom” Drysdale, Harlan’s grandson, had discovered just before his grandfather died.
It turns out, Ransom then concocted a plan that would result in Harlan’s death, all in an attempt to frame Marta for his murder. This way, if Marta was convicted of the crime then the courts would stop her getting the inheritance, and Ransom and the rest of the family would get the money that they so desperately want.
But what was Ransom’s plan? This is where things get a little complicated.
After storming out of the house on the night of Harlan’s death, Ransom snuck back in through the secret window and broke into Marta’s nurse bag. Then he switched the morphine with Harlan’s medication vial and vice versa.
However, Marta was so used to giving the medicine to Harlan that she could feel the medication inside the vial instinctively. So she gave it to Harlan without looking at the vial, and was then devastated to discover that it was labeled morphine. That’s why Marta assumed she had given such a deadly dose of morphine to Harlan.
The fact that Harlan wasn’t actually poisoned and killed himself with the knife obviously meant that Ransom couldn’t be charged with his murder.
Instead, Ransom is charged with the murder of Fran, Harlan’s housekeeper, who suspected that he was involved in the death. After she tried to bribe him, Ransom drugged Fran with morphine. Ransom only admits to this crime, though, after Marta tells him Fran is still alive and is ready to talk, provoking Ransom to confess to everything in a last ditch hope to get the money he believes he deserves.
At this point, though, Marta vomits all over Ransom’s face. She lied. Fran is dead. Ransom just confessed to everything, and Marta now rightfully owns everything of Harlan’s.