A Murder At The End Of The World review | A thrilling, if generic, murder mystery

a murder at the end of the world review
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Emma Corrin stars as a Gen-Z amateur sleuth in the new mystery from the team behind The OA. Read our full review of A Murder At The End Of The World

Whodunnits are, if you hadn’t noticed, back in fashion. Ever since Rian Johnson’s Knives Out made a sizable dent in the zeitgeist, every filmmaker on the planet has been itching to make a murder mystery of their own. The latest pair to beguile us with a twisty thriller is The OA’s Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij. 

A Murder At The End Of The World takes a straightforward, traditional narrative and laces it with modern anxieties, especially those related to AI. Emma Corrin (The Crown) plays Darby Hart, a young amateur sleuth who has just written a bestseller about the cold case her and her then-boyfriend Bill (Harris Dickinson) solved when they were teenagers. 

Darby is invited to a mysterious retreat by tech magnate Andy Ronson (Clive Owen). Naturally, people end up dead and Darby has a mystery to solve – preferably before her own, untimely demise. 

a murder at the end of the world harris dickinson
Credit: FX / Disney+

A Murder At The End Of The World consists of seven episodes, most of them running close to an hour with a couple even longer. There’s a distinct sense that, even though Marling and Batmanglij’s show is never boring, it could have been condensed. The plot becomes convoluted and the twists feel predictable, but also slightly laborious, especially as A Murder At The End Of The World ultimately fails to offer much particularly fresh or exciting. 

There are a lot of parallels to The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, both David Fincher’s excellent adaptation and the original Swedish film. The original Swedish title for the film and Stieg Larsson’s book was Män Som Hatar Kvinnor; Men Who Hate Women. The narrative in A Murder At The End Of The World often flashes back to Darby and Bill investigating a series of murders, all of them young women. Another flashback to Darby’s school shows a teenage boy choking their girlfriend, implying men are inherently violent towards women, even or perhaps especially, when it’s about passion. 

It’s a shame A Murder At The End Of The World never really does much with this element of the story. The first five episodes, which were available for reviews, craft a competent mystery, but the story often lacks something bigger and juicier. AI is a prominent theme throughout the show; Darby is first visited by an AI butler of sorts who extends the invitation to join “a small gathering of minds”. Everything in the hotel the group are staying in is automated and far more advanced than in your local Travelodge. 

Thankfully, Darby is an excellent hacker. And so is everyone else on this show, apparently. Darby, as clever as she is, can prove to be a frustrating character. She’s endlessly naive and while she’s certainly more tech-savvy than Poirot, she’s less entertaining than Benoit Blanc. Corrin’s performance often boils down to a deer-in-the-headlights look, but they do muster up some decent chemistry with Dickinson, even if their relationship feels strangely void of passion.

A Murder At The End Of The World never quite reaches its full potential, but there is plenty here to enjoy. There are better whodunnits out there, but Marling and Batmanglij’s focus on setting – the Icelandic landscapes never get old! – and production design as well as shadowy, moody visuals pay off just enough to keep us interested. 

A Murder At The End Of The World debuts on Disney+ with two episodes on 14th November, followed by weekly episodes

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