In 2019’s Knives Out, Rian Johnson’s entry to the murder mystery genre quickly reveals itself as a deeper exploration of ultimate crimes in America. The Thrombeys, a “self-made,” all-American family, find their way of life threatened by the death of their patriarch, the best-selling mystery author Harlan Thrombey. Each of the Thrombeys — alongside surrounding characters — reveals their relationship to whiteness through their interactions with Marta, the daughter of an immigrant mother and nurse to Harlan.
Like the classic murder mystery game Clue, each character has an object they might wield as a weapon. Here though, each weapon represents some aspect of white supremacy as demonstrated by the character. Taken together, they form a chalk-white outline of the Thrombeys and the culture they represent.
Ben Lewellyn-Taylor lives in Dallas, TX. He is an MFA student in Antioch University’s low-residency program. His essays and reviews appear in various publications, all of which can be found on bentaylorblogs.com.