Agatha Christie: And Then There Were None, three episodes of the story on DVD
Five out of five stars
This is a superb film adaptation of a story by Agatha Christie. It is the late 1930’s and it is clear that the world is on the brink of another great war. For reasons that are unclear to all of them, eight total strangers receive invitations to attend some form of celebration on the very isolated Soldier Island. The only structure on the island is a two-story mansion. When all eight of the invited people arrive they are greeted a very proper English maid and butler that are husband and wife.
On each wall there is a poem describing the deaths of ten people, the structure is a set of short segments where each lists the number of living, the manner of death of one of them and then the number of the living reduced by one. When the young male playboy dies from what is apparently a cyanide-laced drink, the puzzlement and uncertainty moves to a course of fear and the re-emergence of old memories of the deaths of others.
Revealed in snippets, the viewer learns that each of the people has a dark secret in their past and the people continue to die one at a time. Since there is no way off the island and all the deaths are carried out with anonymous efficiency, the suspicion and paranoia grows, sometimes directed at the potential for at least one additional person on the island and at other times at each other.
No matter what the members of the group do, the killer remains unrevealed, with no real clue as to their identity ever appearing. As the story moves along, more and more of the dark secrets are exposed, the victims suffer from the torture of having intense flashbacks to their deeds reappear in their minds. It is easy for the viewer to reach the conclusion that a particular person is the killer, right up to the point where they are killed. None of the people are likable in any way, so it is hard to root for any of them to survive.
When it is revealed, the identity and motive of the killer was unexpected. Both are darkly logical, this is a great suspense movie and it is fortunate that the decision was made to use three one-hour episodes. It takes that much time to establish the context and build the suspense. Once both were set, I simply could not stop watching until it was over.