“AND THEN THERE WERE NONE” (2016)

 

 

Director: Basi Akpabio, Rebecca Keane, Craig Viveiros

Writers: Script by Sarah Phelps, based on Agatha Christie novel

Cast: Aidan Turner, Maeve Dermody, Charles Dance, Sam Neil, Miranda Richardson, Toby Stephens, Noah Taylor Anna Maxwell Martin, Burn Gorman…

Runtime: 177 minutes

Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Drama

Rated:  NR - Not Rated

Price: $34.99

 

Reviewed by Cherie Jung
(May, 2016)

 

“And Then There Were None” is essentially a bad horror movie. People – strangers – are lured to an island with no way to escape and by nightfall they begin dying one by one. Had they all stayed together, as was suggested at one point, the killer wouldn’t have been able to pick them off one by one. Of course, eventually they might have run out of food. They ran out of electricity. (There’s no real explanation of how the island gets its water or electricity, only that it took a week to bring supplies over from the mainland by small boat.) They were certainly well supplied with alcohol to drink!

Apparently the Rogers (cook and butler) arrived a week before the guests. The guests were told that the small boat that ferried them to the island brings supplies and messages from the mainland every morning. One of the plot holes, besides the electricity and water issues (they use candles and lamps after a raging storm but before the storm, they had electricity) is the identity of the killer. It’s not even remotely plausible that the killer could kill all of those people and remain undetected.

Warning: Be prepared for way too many flashbacks.

 It is no doubt based on Agatha Christie’s bestselling crime novel but not “the event of the year” as hyped by some in the press.

I suspect “And Then There Were None” has remained so popular because it is unlike her Poirot or Miss Marple mysteries.  While some Miss Marple fans may not enjoy the Poirot mysteries, and vice versa, “And Then There Were None” is a very different kind of mystery or crime tale. It doesn’t rely on a detective or amateur sleuth to solve the mystery.

It is brutal and dark.

 Modern audiences may fault the plot citing “everyone has used that gimmick” but when Christie wrote the novel years ago, no one else had used the gimmick in quite that way. I think the main problem is that in today’s world some of the urgency and symbolism is lost. They were heading into another war (WWII). It felt like the end of the world might be coming. The book was about Justice. Brutal justice. That no one was coming to “save” them. There were references to the Irish “problem” (the IRA). The cop keeps referring to the one Irish guest as a Fenian, a derogatory term that some viewers will miss or ignore.

The all star cast did little to enhance the story. It’s rather like in a B-grade horror movie when the teenagers realize someone is trying to kill them so they split up and go looking for the killer. It also reminded me of an episode of the TV show “Two and a Half Men” where the guys are sitting on the couch, eating popcorn, and watching a slasher movie when one of the film’s characters decides to look in the garden shed for his friend, Corey, and Jake shouts, “Don’t go in there! Corey’s been dead for an hour.”

The acting is way over the top – what one would expect from a stage play – no real subtleties. Lots of shouting. The numerous flashbacks are supposed to add to the foreboding atmosphere but they become annoying. We understand quite quickly that the people are lying, putting their own spin on the apparent facts to pretend they are innocent victims. Also, the pacing seems amiss.

Had I been on the island, I would gladly have helped the killer get the job done. We don’t really develop any sympathy for the characters, except possibly a little empathy for two of them, but not enough to worry or care about their fate. They keep shouting about being hunted but the feel or atmosphere just isn’t there.  I was hoping they would die a little faster.  

“And Then There Were None” is presented in 3 one-hour episodes. 90 minutes would have been better. It was okay. It’s better upon a second viewing though it remains overly drawn out, with annoying characters, and plot holes the size of an iceberg, if you think about it too much. The only redeeming thing, I thought, was that they went back to the original ending as written in the book.

I kept myself amused during the long drawn out plot by trying to remember where I’d seen the actors and actresses before, especially Dr. Armstrong and Vera. Mr. Rogers, the butler, I recognized right away as Laura Croft’s tech guy, Bryce. Sam Neil and Charles Dance were easy enough to recognize. Miranda Richardson’s voice was familiar (Hint: Mrs. Tweety in “Chicken Run”). Several of the others were more difficult to recall… Anna Maxwell Martin was a tough one but finally I remembered her. Midsomer Murders.


Copyright 2016 Cherie Jung. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of the author is prohibited. OMDB! and OMDB! logos are trademarks of Over My Dead Body!


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