Directed by Yuichi Fukuda, ‘Once Upon a Crime’ is a 2023 fantasy movie starring the likes of Kanna Hashimoto, Yuko Araki, Takanori Iwata, and more. This Netflix original weaves a mesmerizing story, combining the classic tales of Red Riding Hood and Cinderella into a compelling new one. Set in a kingdom where physical beauty reigns supreme, the movie follows the story of Red Riding Hood (Kanna Hashimoto) and Cinderella (Yuko Araki) as they attend the royal ball.
Things spiral out of control when they become embroiled in a murder investigation concerning the king’s hairstylist. ‘Once Upon a Crime’ is a masterful retelling of two classic fantasy stories, complete with mystery, romance, and a slew of twists and turns. If you’re curious about the real killer, here’s everything you need to know about the ending of ‘Once Upon a Crime.’ SPOILERS AHEAD!
Once Upon a Crime Plot Synopsis
The movie kicks off with a narration recounting the story of Little Red Riding Hood. Her grandmother gifted her a red velvet riding hood, a garment that suited her so perfectly that Red Riding Hood never wished to part with it. As the years rolled by, she blossomed into a sharp-witted and astute woman. Seeking to break free from the monotony of her life, she embarks on an adventurous journey to Spenhagan, leaving behind the familiar comforts of her village. During her travels, Red Riding Hood (Kanna Hashimoto) encounters Barbara (Midoriko Kimura), a mysterious witch who offers to transform her plain shoes into exquisite, more alluring ones. In Barbara’s opinion, a woman’s worth hinges on her dress and beauty. Initially hesitant, Red Riding Hood reluctantly agrees to the magical makeover. Unfortunately, the magic goes kaput, and the witch mistakenly swaps her shoes with those of none other than Cinderella (Yuko Araki).
Red Riding Hood tracks down Cinderella and retrieves her shoes. Upon seeing Cinderella’s torn clothes, Red Riding Hood realizes that Cinderella is being bullied by her stepmother and stepsisters. Her stepsisters even cruelly denied her the opportunity to attend the Prince’s ball. Red Riding Hood decides to help Cinderella attend the event. The witches, Barbara and Tekla (Mirei Kiritani), use their magic to transform Cinderella and Red Riding Hood into beautiful maidens. The witches also provide them with a resplendent carriage and a coachman to take Red Riding Hood and Cinderella to the Prince’s castle. Amidst all the laughter and magic, Barbara and Tekla issue a vital warning. The duo advise Cinderella and Red Riding Hood that their makeovers are temporary and the magic will begin to fade away after 24 hours. Therefore, they must return before the clock strikes that fateful deadline.
On the way to the castle, the coachman accidentally runs over Mr. Hans (Masaki Kaji), the king’s hairstylist. But Red Riding Hood concludes that Mr. Hans has been dead for some time now, meaning the coachman is innocent. Red Riding Hood hides the body and proceeds to attend the Prince’s ball. Cinderella and Red Riding Hood arrive at the ball and mesmerize everyone with their beauty. Prince Gilbert (Takanori Iwata) requests Cinderella to join him for a dance. Unfortunately, the news of Mr. Hans’s death forces King Bovell (Jirô Satô) to prematurely end the ball. The king reveals that Mr. Hans died after a carriage struck him on his way to the castle. The king also suspects the murderer is among the ball’s attendees and, in response, orders his men to inspect every carriage for any traces of blood.
The soldiers thoroughly search each carriage but come up empty-handed, finding no signs of blood. Moreover, the doctor deduces that the wound on the back of Hans’ head must have occurred prior to the one on his forehead. This indicates that Hans was long dead before the carriage incident. Further investigation at Hans’ residence yields a bloodstained whetstone, providing clear evidence that Hans was killed in his own home. Additionally, the soldiers also find a bag of hairlocks on the crime scene.
Once Upon a Crime Ending Explained: Who Killed Mr. Hans?
Based on the hairlocks, Lord Chamberlain (Tomoharu Hasegawa) narrows down the list of suspects to five women. Red Riding Hood steps in and challenges Chamberlain’s theory. She refutes the idea that these hairlocks were accidentally cut and instead suggests they were intentionally severed. Red Riding Hood proceeds to question Anne (Yumi Wakatsuki), who then reveals that Hans had tricked her into cutting her hair short. Hans manipulated her with the false claim that Prince Gilbert preferred women with shorter hair. This lie lured many women to follow suit and trim their locks. But why? In reality, Hans was not the nobleman he appeared to be. He harbored a deep resentment towards women with beautiful, long hair and couldn’t bear to see them flaunting it. To make matters worse, he was also blackmailing Prince Gilbert for a misdemeanor he committed years ago.
The king learns of the blackmail and suspects Prince Gilbert’s involvement in Hans’s death. As a response, the king orders his guards to place Prince Gilbert under arrest. At this tense moment, a mysterious woman enters the hall and boldly identifies herself as the Prince’s alibi. She states that Prince Gilbert was on the hilltop between the hours of 1 and 3, during the time of Hans’ death. This implies that Gilbert could not have been the one responsible for Mr. Hans’s death. Furthermore, the thorn present on Gilbert’s outfit proved that he was indeed near the hill. Recognizing his error, the king commands his men to release Prince Gilbert.
Meanwhile, Red Riding Hood and Cinderella leave the ball in haste after hearing the final bell. As they make their exit, Cinderella accidentally drops her glass sandals, which Prince Gilbert happens to notice and retrieves. At night, Red Riding Hood encounters Margot (Kelly Lee) in the jungle, who believes she’s the killer. Margot shares that Mr. Hans had summoned her to his residence, but upon arrival, she was struck unconscious. When she regained consciousness, she found Hans’s lifeless body sprawled on the floor, with a bloodstained whetstone clutched in her own hands. However, Red Riding Hood believes otherwise and is certain that the true perpetrator still remains at large. Before Margot can divulge more details that could potentially exonerate her, a contingent of soldiers abruptly arrives on the scene and arrests her.
As the soldiers lead Margot away, a glass shard slips from her grasp, inadvertently revealing to Red Riding Hood the identity of the real killer. To her dismay, the murderer is none other than Cinderella. But why would Cinderella kill Mr. Hans? In reality, Cinderella, like Hans’s other victims, had been lured into his sinister scheme. Hans promised to transform her into a beautiful maiden. Once inside his house, Hans’s true intentions were revealed. He attempted to cut Cinderella’s hair, forcing the latter to kill him. Then, to evade justice, Cinderella concocted a deceitful ruse. She authored a false letter to frame her stepsister, Margot. Cinderella’s cunning plan took a tragic turn when she inadvertently struck Margot with her glass sandals, causing one of the heels to shatter.
Cinderella’s desperation leads her to bury the broken sandal in the grave of her pet pigeon. Yet, her actions did not escape the keen eyes of Red Riding Hood. After hearing the entire story, Prince Gilbert commands his men to arrest Cinderella. However, just when it seems the story has reached its climax, another unexpected twist unfolds. Remy (Mizuki Yamamoto), Gilbert’s long-lost love, suddenly reveals herself. She is the same woman who had stepped forward as the Prince’s alibi during his murder conviction. Gilbert holds Remy in his arms, vowing never to let her go again. In the movie’s final moments, Prince Gilbert, now married to Princess Remy, bids a heartfelt farewell to Red Riding Hood.
Why Did Prince Gilbert Throw the King’s Crown in Trash?
Prince Gilbert was deeply in love with a servant girl named Remy. He was determined to wed her and make her his wife. However, from the outset, his father had been staunchly opposed to their budding romance. Gilbert spared no effort in attempting to make his father see reason, but the king remained true in his disapproval. A few weeks later, Remy mysteriously vanished from the castle.
Convinced that Remy had left due to the king’s disapproval of their relationship, Gilbert’s heart swelled with anger and resentment. In a fit of rage, he cast his father’s crown into the trash, laying the blame squarely on him for Remy’s sudden departure. Hans somehow got wind of the situation and seized the opportunity to exploit Gilbert. Hans began to blackmail Gilbert and demanded his family heirloom as payment.
Why Did Remy Leave the Castle?
Remy never wanted to leave the castle, let alone Prince Gilbert. Tragically, she belonged to a kingdom that placed an exceptionally high value on physical beauty. This very attribute had been cruelly stolen from her due to Hans’s malevolent scheme. Just like Hans’s other victims, Remy too fell for Hans’ deceit and entered his house. Therein, he cut her hair, leaving behind a disfiguring scar on her face.
Haunted by the idea that her altered appearance made her unworthy of Prince Gilbert’s love, Remy decides to leave the castle. She sought solace in a cave near the hill, a place from which she could secretly gaze at the Prince whenever he climbed the hill to reminisce about their lost love.