20 Underrated Murder Mysteries That Make Us Feel Like Master Detectives

List Rules
Vote up the mysteries that truly get under your skin.

Have you ever imagined yourself as a Sherlock Holmes-level detective? If so, you probably enjoy murder mysteries. The genre has been around almost since the invention of movies, and it's proven to be extremely durable. From the films noir of the '40s and '50s, to the star-studded productions of the '70s, to the more recent Knives Out, audiences have long relished the opportunity to bring out their inner Miss Marples and solve some crimes. 

If you've seen all the usual suspects (pun intended), the following underrated murder mysteries will give you some new fodder for your detective fantasies. Many of these are true hidden gems that never quite got the attention they deserved. Others were hits - or at least hits among a target audience - upon their initial release, yet didn't quite break into the mainstream. And some are simply older films that younger people may not be hip to yet. Whatever the case, they offer plenty of fun and chills as you follow the clues.

  • 1
    265 VOTES

    It's a tragic fact that women often go missing on Native American reservations. That's the idea Wind River dives into. Jeremy Renner plays Cory Lambert, a professional game tracker who assists FBI agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen) in looking for the people responsible for killing a teenage girl whose body was later found in the snow. The case leads them to make some horrifying discoveries about what's happening on this particular reservation.

    The way Wind River unfurls its mystery is riveting. You'll pay rapt attention to every second. The movie also has something to say about crimes on reservations. Poor economic conditions, insufficient law enforcement, and a general lack of opportunity frequently combine to create the potential for bad things to happen. This is a murder mystery with real-world relevance, driven by powerhouse work from Renner and Olsen. 

  • 2
    166 VOTES

    In between the Evil Dead movies and the Spider-Man movies, Sam Raimi made a first-rate murder mystery called The Gift. Cate Blanchett plays Annie Wilson, a psychic who gets caught up in the search for a missing woman named Jessica King (Katie Holmes). When she turns up dead, the prime suspect is Donnie Barksdale (Reeves), a hateful man who had an affair with her. He's arrested, but Annie's visions suggest he might not be the person police are looking for. She tries to get to the bottom of things.

    As you would expect from Raimi, The Gift is very stylish. A sense of dread is pervasive in the movie thanks to the tone he sets. You also get the pleasure of seeing Keanu Reeves in a rare bad-guy role. He knocks your socks off playing against type. Above all, using psychic visions as a plot point allows for some eerie moments guaranteed to give you a chill.  

  • 3
    325 VOTES

    In the late 1960s, the Zodiac Killer carried out five confirmed murders, but claimed to have killed 37 people in total. He liked to taunt law enforcement by sending them impossible-to-decipher coded messages. The slayer was never caught, and although there are various theories about his identity, no one knows for sure.

    Director David Fincher told the story of three men obsessed with the case in his 2007 drama Zodiac. Robert Downey Jr. plays reporter Paul Avery, Jake Gyllenhaal is political cartoonist Robert Graysmith, and Mark Ruffalo is police inspector Dave Toschi. They, along with dozens of others, try to figure out the messages and expose the person responsible, to no avail. Crucially, the film mimics the open-ended nature of the case, lasting far longer than audiences anticipated and not offering a clear resolution. Instead, the mystery is left as unresolved onscreen as it is in real life.

    It may seem odd to call Zodiac underrated when it was highly acclaimed and is considered one of Fincher's best films. It only made $33 million at the domestic box office, though, and a lot of people still avoid it, thinking that it will contain upsetting violence. In reality, the film is restrained in that regard, focusing far more on the psychological toll that looking for the culprit takes on the central trio than on blood and gore.

  • 4
    167 VOTES

    In The Nice Guys, Ryan Gosling plays shabby detective Holland March, and Russell Crowe is Jackson Healy, a goon who beats people up for money. They join forces to find Amelia Kuttner (Margaret Qualley), an adult film actress who supposedly died in a car accident but may actually be in hiding from some very bad dudes. They quickly discover that her career in erotic entertainment is not entirely what it seems.

    Written and directed by Shane Black, The Nice Guys benefits from hilarious chemistry between March and Healy. In fact, they have their own distinct version of the old "odd couple" chemistry perfected by the likes of Abbott and Costello. Crowe and Gosling earn huge laughs together, while Angourie Rice steals scenes as March's 13-year-old daughter, who's way better at deciphering clues than he is. 

    The murder mystery is secondary to the interactions between the characters, but that's what makes the movie endlessly enjoyable to watch. When it's over, you'll immediately want to see these people in a sequel.