Murder mysteries tend to make for pretty exciting films. There’s a whole lot of suspects and you have to try and decide how to play things out. If you want to really make things exciting then you should try to pick out the suspect once they have all said their alibis and established motive. The film’s pretty fair with letting you make that choice. In fact I’m happy to say I was right on the money with this one. There’s just so many reasons why it made sense even if I wasn’t able to guess the full explanation. I was actually a little off on the motive as well.
The movie starts with Poirot not being able to solve a case. Or rather, he determines that no foul play was afoot aside from a normal murder. He then heads off to go on a quick vacation for some R&R. He meets up with a guy who lets Poirot know that he got swindled and he intends to destroy the lady who did this to him. Her name is Arlena. Poirot decides to go to this exclusive hotel as well because it’s supposed to be relaxing. Unfortunately it is anything but. Every family there has a lot of baggage and are not having any fun. Poirot does his best to ignore them all but then Arlena ends up getting murdered while she was on the beach. Who could have done it??
One thing that I always appreciate as that these films have a ton of details. So what happens is the film will throw you a lot of genuine clues and such to keep your eye on as well as a ton of red herrings. The film’s approach is to completely overload you with information. I appreciate this tactic because it’s counting on you overlooking something as opposed to straight up hiding it. It’s like that psych experiment they try where they show you a video filled with nonsense except for one little detail that’s legit. So it’s a really good structure.
As always the writing is pretty sound here as well. The characters all have distinct personalities as well as solid motives for wanting to bump Arlena off. At the same time you have to assume that it’s not a case of everyone destroying her this time because that kind of twist you should only end up doing once. Arlena is also shown to be as unlikable as possible. She’s incredibly mean to everyone and doesn’t even hide the fact that she is unfaithful to her husband. You certainly don’t miss her from the dynamic. So lets talk about all of the suspects.
First we have Arlena’s daughter Linda. Her alibi is that she was at the beach on the other side of the island around the time of the murder and this is corroborated by two other characters. Her motive would be that Arlena is cheating on Linda’s father and Arlena also tends to bullet Linda a lot. Having her out of the way would be pretty convenient for her. I wouldn’t say Linda is a particularly good character though. She lies about her story a few times which could get the wrong person hanged and I think she could have managed to have more fun on the trip even if she can’t quite stay at the grown up table.
Next is Kenneth. He’s Arlena’s husband so his motive is obvious. She’s been cheating on him for a while now. His alibi is that he was typing at the time and this story is corroborated by his letter which had to be a response to another one that was sent the same day. Unfortunately Kenneth isn’t a likable character either way. The fact that he just overlooks how mean Arlena is to Linda is pretty nasty. You wish the guy would just have more backbone about this. Instead he just keeps on going with the flow.
After Kenneth is Rex. His alibi is that he was on a boat during that time and his actions are corroborated by one person. His motive is that he wants to write a book about Arlena but keeps getting shut down at every turn since she doesn’t want people knowing about her book. So of course if she wasn’t around then this wouldn’t be a problem. He’s not a particularly likable guy either. He tends to be a little too informal with everyone which is why nobody seems to like the guy. As a result he has to hang out by himself a lot of the time.
Next is Patrick who is the guy Arlena is cheating with. He has no qualms about people seeing him either including his wife. His motive here would be to take her down so that he can finally get over her or at least so people wouldn’t be able to keep accusing him of this. His alibi here is that he’s the one who found the body which was corroborated by one character. It goes without saying that he’s not likable here. Cheating behavior like that will always make you shake your head at a character. He certainly gets real defensive about this as well considering that he makes no effort to hide what he’s doing.
Christine is Patrick’s wife so her motive is clear as well. If she bumps Arlena off then she won’t have to worry about any kind of affair going on. Her alibi is that she was sketching at the time. This was corroborated by one person. I’m not a fan of Christine…so you can kind of see that I don’t like any of these guys. That’s part of the point though as everyone is meant to look rather bad so they all appear more suspicious as well. Christine’s problem is she spends a lot of time feeling sorry for herself. She gets dizzy from vertigo, can’t go outside, cries a lot, etc. She tends to blow all of her problems up which makes them a lot bigger than they otherwise would be.
Then we have Myra. Her motive would be that Arlena is suddenly backing out of a play which is going to cost her a lot of money. If Arlena is bumped off then Myra would have a decent excuse to cancel the show. Myra’s alibi is that she was with Patrick when he found the body and her story was corroborated by one person. Myra’s at least more fun than a bunch of the other characters. She’s got a lot of pep in her step as she walks around and criticizes everyone. She can be very two faced at times but in this movie that’s fairly par for the course with most of these characters. Especially the murderer of course.
Then you have Odell. His motive would be the same as Myra’s since they have the same play. His alibi is that he was outside in the garden reading a book. He has a great deal of fun pointing out to Poirot that he doesn’t have an alibi but that this is normal. His speech was actually the best part of the entire movie because of how awesome it was. The guy was absolutely not holding back in the slightest with his intense comments towards Poirot. You’d think someone who’s at risk of being hanged would act a bit differently. For this reason I would say he was definitely the best member of the suspects. His performance there was just brilliant.
Finally we have Daphne. She’s the owner of the hotel. Her motive would be that she doesn’t like the way Arlena treats her family and they have been rivals for a long time. Her alibi is that she was in a meeting with all of her staff which is corroborated by no one except presumably the staff if they were asked some questions. Daphne can be pretty fun. She’s a solid rival and does her best to undermine Arlena with witty comments and last second zingers.
Naturally Poirot is a fun lead as well. He is always having a lot of fun when the missions pop up so you feel bad for the guy. He does make sure to still enjoy himself while solving this though. He has a lot of fun dialogue and does piece together the puzzles rather well. Nothing is ever able to shake his absolute confidence. Poirot has a smug air to him but it’s well deserved given his track record. At this point his name is known far and wide to everyone so even in the movies people recognize him immediately.
Really the only thing holding this film from getting a high score is there’s a very random moment of animal violence in the film. We see a dead rabbit or some kind of animal like that out of nowhere. It serves no purpose in the film whatsoever. Why was this added? Perhaps the film wanted to have some kind of illustration of death or the time passing but there are far, far better ways of doing it. All you get from this scene was that the film was clearly losing its marbles. It’s too bad because the rest of the film was rather solid but this certainly had to shave a star off. The film is fortunate we don’t see how the animal got destroyed or it would have been far worse.
Overall, Evil Under The Sun is a pretty solid mystery. It gives us a good amount of suspects and then the case to solve. The film is fairly long which gives each character a solid amount of detail. Additionally I like how the culprit acts towards the end of the film. The culprit continues to laugh off the theory and accusations the whole time yelling for proof and such. I always like when the victim is adamant about being in the clear the whole time. You don’t want to see anyone throw in the towel before then because it would be too easy. I’d recommend checking this film out if you’re looking for a good murder mystery.