We already know Knives Out is a total blast of a film; raucously laugh out loud with searing tension that mounts until the final denouement served with aplomb by Detective Benoit Blanc.
To get to that denouement, the classic literary device in which the detective ties together all the loose threads to explain, well, whodunnit, a lot of clues must be pieced together. For the cinemagoer, enraptured by the movie, the final moment may go by too quickly for it all to make sense.
That's where we come in. Here comes the warning: as we explain the twist of Knives Out, there will obviously be colossal spoilers.
The premise of the film, well known by now, is that the patriarch of the Thrombey family, murder-mystery writer Harlan (Christopher Plummer) holds a birthday party to which he invites his family.
The next morning, he's found dead, his throat slit and the knife at his side.
Soon after, a mysterious private detective, Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) arrives at the Thrombey house to solve the murder. He also discovers the various secrets the family members are holding: extortion, affairs, lying – they run the gamut.
Blanc's inside source into the family drama is Harlan's nurse, Marta (Ana De Armas) who has a condition that causes her to vomit if she lies (handy for Blanc). Unfortunately for Marta, she is the one who killed Harlan.
She accidentally gave him a fatal dose of morphine, which would kill him within minutes. The antidote was mysteriously missing from her bag. So, with only moments to spare, Harlan helps Marta concoct a plan to frame it as a murder and then slits his own throat.
However, this isn't where the story ends, because the real murderer was Ransom, the wayward grandson played by Chris Evans. Knowing that he was being written out of his grandfather's will, Ransom snuck into the attic-study and switched the vials of the medicine, so that when Marta administered the higher-dosage medication via injection, she actually kill him with a morphine overdose.
Another clue that Ransom really was the not-killer-killer is Great-Nana, who upon seeing Marta climbing out of the attic-study says: "Ransom, is that you again?" The 'again' is the key: she had already seen him climbing into the study to swap the vials.
But wait, there's more.
During the denouement, Blanc produces the two vials of medicine Marta was meant to administer to Harlan, with blank labels across them. He threatens to inject himself, but Marta is able to pick out the morphine even when she can't read the label.
So what does that mean?
Well, it turns out that the person who really killed Harlan was Harlan.
Marta was able to tell which medicine she was injecting, even with the swapped labels. She gave Harlan the correct dose of his medication. This is backed up by the toxicology report, with Harlan's bloodwork, which reveals he didn't have a fatal dose of morphine in him.
The toxicology report is what fuelled the blackmail that the Thrombey housekeeper was holding over Ransom. When she confronted him, he injected her with morphine. Marta manages to lie to tell Ransom that she's survived and is going to tell the police about his attempted murder. Ransom confesses, tries to kill Marta, but turns out to be wielding a prop knife.
Marta throws up from the lie – Fran the housekeeper didn't survive the morphine injection, but Ransom has confessed anyway. Marta takes the money, and the house, that Harlan promised her in his will and the story ends with the Thrombey family looking up at their former home, Marta on the balcony staring down at them.
Knives Out is now playing in cinemas
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