In my Hollywood days, I had the pleasure/misfortune to work on Moon in Scorpio, maybe the worst movie ever made. It's a slasher movie that takes place...moreIn my Hollywood days, I had the pleasure/misfortune to work on Moon in Scorpio, maybe the worst movie ever made. It's a slasher movie that takes place on a yacht. Think Gilligan and company on their three hour tour, but instead of getting shipwrecked in a storm, Maryanne turns into a homicidal maniac. Towards the end, there are only three people left on the boat. The Captain gets the idea of calling for help on the ship's radio. Of course, when only 2 or 3 people had been murdered, no one would think to use the radio to call for help, so that's why the Captain only decides to do this now. But when he gets to the radio, he discovers that the killer has already disabled it.
He comes back to the deck of the boat only to discover that one of the other survivors has been shot in the throat with a spear gun. He starts shaking the victim by the shoulder, demanding "Who did this to you? Who did this to you?" Meanwhile, Maryanne, the only other person alive on the boat stands in the background with a coy smile on her face. Unfortunately, the victim has a spear in his throat, so he's not in the best shape for talking, and he dies before he can reveal his killer's identity.
I had already read And Then There Were None when I was working on, and making fun of, this movie. And I hadn't drawn the obvious connection. I think that this book may have created this particular twist to the mystery/slasher genre. And there are lots of terrible movies now where people, usually teens, are picked off one by one.
Christie, of course, is not really slasher. She's far too polite. In general, for her, murder is a nice jumping off point for creating a puzzle box. That would be OK, so far as it goes. But there's a bigger problem: she cheats. Here, we have ten people invited to an island. This is a typical set-up for her. It's vital to the puzzle box mentality to limit the range of possible killers. But her omniscient narrator then goes on to give the inner thoughts of nine of the players. And these thoughts eliminate each one of these nine as possible suspects. The tenth player is killed very early. What that means is that, either the narrator is lying to us, or the characters are lying in their own innermost thoughts. Since Christie designed these books for those with a logical turn of mind, I prefer to take the logical approach, and therefore I conclude that the narrator is lying to us. While that might be tons of fun in post-contemporary fiction, its bad form in a traditional puzzle box mystery. (view spoiler)[Here its even worse. The very first thing in the book is Justice Wargrave pondering over his invitation to Indian island, and concluding that the woman who sent him the invitation is just the sort of person who would do that sort of thing. Later, he asks Mr. Rogers whether that woman will be coming. Christie is just going out of her way to draw our attention away from the most logical suspect. But she does it in a way that makes it impossible to believe that he was thinking what she says he was thinking. (hide spoiler)]
So I tip my hat to Christie for having invented one of the worst genres ever. But a wag of the finger for having so blatantly cheated in the execution of this idea.