A Murder at the End of the World: How Much of it is Real?

Image Credit: FX Networks

FX miniseries ‘A Murder at the End of the World’ is a crime thriller film with a twist. Instead of your regular Sherlock Holmes investigating a crime, there’s a Gen Z at the helm in this show created by Zal Batmanglij and Brit Marling. It follows true crime novelist, amateur detective, and self-taught hacker Darby Hart (Emma Corrin), who, despite being very young, is taken quite seriously among those who know her, especially after the success of her true crime memoir, ‘The Silver Doe.’ In her memoir, Darby discusses her adventure with her love interest, Bill (Harris Dickinson), and how they were led to a serial killer.

Due to the success of this memoir, a tech billionaire Andy (Clive Owen) and his ace hacker wife Lee (Brit Marling) invite her to an exclusive retreat in Iceland. Darby has her doubts but decides to meet her idol, Lee, whose work as a hacker has inspired her. She seems like a misfit in a place full of accomplished people. But she gets to reunite with Bill after six years, and someone dies the same night. It could be an accident, but Darby is sure it’s a murder, and she has to use all her resources to get to the bottom of the mystery. As gripping as it sounds, let’s take a look at how true this story is.

A Murder at the End of the World is Not Based on a True Story

As convincing as it sounds, ‘A Murder at the End of the World’ is not based on a true story or real people, but is the result of an original script by the creators, with Marling even starring in the series as the billionaire’s wife. With a picture of the true crime novel mentioned in the series also making the rounds, it feels like there’s some truth to the narrative. But despite that, this show is entirely fictional and has been written from the perspective of a young true crime author to discuss many issues, especially the use of tech in detective work, which Darby is very good at.

Image Credit: FX Networks

Through the miniseries, the creators have focussed a lot on the use of technology, even dabbling with the sci-fi genre a bit since the tech billionaire has used AI in an incredibly innovative way, which doesn’t seem too real. It also focuses on how tech can be used as a weapon, especially in the case of Darby, whose entire life revolves around her phone and internet searches, and she relies entirely on that to get to the bottom of any mystery. While she’s tech-savvy, she doesn’t have the same tools as the billionaire, but it still plays a dominant role in the series. It also partially explores the themes of young love, with Darby getting reunited with Bill and some unresolved feelings still floating around.

But at its heart, it is still a murder mystery, and there’s a reason it seems so familiar. It definitely reminds one of some crime fiction novels addressing similar issues, like ‘The Witness’ by Nora Roberts or even ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ by Stieg Larsson. These novels, just like the series, discuss the impact of hacking and the rapid development of technology. They’re all about crime too, but from the digital perspective, just like the series. These dominant themes especially have also been addressed in many other crime fiction novels since the idea of a young woman at the centre of a crime narrative, determined and eager to solve it, seems to have gained popularity.

Image Credit: LiljaJons/FX Networks

Another reason why these elements seem familiar is that the whole idea of taking a few people on an expensive retreat with a rich person as the host and the detective as a misfit and unlikely guest is also clearly mirrored in the 2022 film ‘Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery.’ While it doesn’t have a Gen Z detective at the centre, everything else about the plot and there being a murder in a remote location is very similar. In both films, the detective is left to solve the mystery of the murder before any others take place, and it’s usually one of the guests and someone with a hidden motive.

Many other films also portray these themes, like ‘Murder on the Orient Express,’ where there is no invitation from a billionaire, but a famous detective finds himself in a similar packed area where someone gets killed in front of him, and he has to solve the mystery. A similar theme is also noticed in the 2003 film ‘Identity,’ when strangers stuck together start getting murdered, and just like our protagonist in the series, who is an amateur detective, regular people need to start uncovering the mystery before there are more deaths.

While not exactly very similar to the themes in the series, especially since there’s no detective involved, even the 2017 film ‘Wind River’ can be considered as a reference to this kind of story, especially since an FBI agent and a local tracker try to investigate a murder. With so many similar examples, it’s no wonder that this series also feels like a true story, especially since it involves a true crime novel and a Gen Z at the center. But sadly, it is purely a work of great fiction.

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