Friday, March 24, the College of William and Mary’s AMP hosted its Hollywood Murder Mystery event in Sadler Center Tidewater A and B.
The week prior, AMP’s advertisement poster for the event caught my eye. Having read “Murder on the Orient Express” and having watched “Clue,” “Knives Out” and “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery,” I consider myself an invested fan of any kind of murder mystery. By the night of the event, I had convinced a group of friends to go.
Despite my enthusiasm, my night got off to a rocky start approximately three seconds after I walked into Tidewater. Standing in front of the check-in desk, I was asked by an emcee if I was there for the Oscars party. I said no. The emcee then had to clarify that the Oscars party was the Murder Mystery event. It was not one of my better moments.
At least now I was aware that the Murder Mystery event was Oscars-themed; this meant, of course, that every participant needed a snazzy Hollywood identity. I was assigned the identity of William Shatner, who is most famous for playing Captain Kirk in the original “Star Trek.” One of my friends was assigned the identity of Captain Picard, so we were “Trekkies” for the night together.
The room was set up with roughly 12 tables, each seating six to ten participants. Each table filled quickly with a diverse, unique set of celebrities; I was lucky to be seated with Pharrell Williams, Kourtney Kardashian and Luigi, to name a few. We began making sophisticated small talk (as celebrities at the Oscars do) before we were interrupted by a bloodcurdling scream.
“Chris Evans is dead!” an emcee cried, sprinting into the middle of the room. Horrified gasps escaped from almost every celebrity around me.
Then, another emcee emerged, declaring himself the detective of the case. Immediately, he announced that the murderer must still be in the room and that the doors must be locked to prevent them from slipping away.
Then, the investigation began. With the two emcees theatrically leading the case, the first clue was discovered — a bloody Oscar award with the inscription: “the best dead Chris.” Celebrities everywhere were on the edge of their seats. The best dead Chris? Did this mean more beloved Chrises were to follow Evans? Only time would tell.
The night passed with lots of witty banter between the emcees, a few more clues and an entertaining drawing activity. Each table received one sheet of paper, and each celebrity had to draw one body part of the murderer before passing the paper on. My table’s murderer looked like, as an emcee put it, she “could tell your rising sign just by smelling you.” I was still working out if that was an insult or a compliment when the second clue was found: a film festival schedule with notes written on it by the murderer. And with that, Chris Pratt and Chris Pine apparently bit the dust.
Soon after, tragedy struck again in the form of another “Chris murder.” This time, it was, you guessed it — Chris Hemsworth. An emcee then stated that all of the important Chrises were dead; I am not sure how that made Christopher Walken, who was sitting at my table, feel.
Our last clue was probably the most prolific. It was a letter from the killer, addressed to “Chris.”
“Soon all you will be is collateral,” the letter threatened. “I could do this with my eyes wide shut.”
The emcees then gave the groups seven minutes to review the clues and write down who the murderer was, why they did it and how they did it. My group worked out that “Collateral” and “Eyes Wide Shut” are none other than Tom Cruise films; and on the film schedule, the killer had crossed off the showing of “Dawson’s Creek,” which Cruise’s ex-wife Katie Holmes stars in. It was confirmed: the murderer in the room was Cruise!
Each table ended up guessing the murderer correctly, though as for why Cruise did it, answers varied with creativity. However, the winning explanation revealed that Cruise killed the Chrises because they refused to join his practice of Scientology and that Cruise used his “Mission Impossible” stunt skills to pull off the murders. Case closed!
After the event, I spoke with Ryan Yoder ’24, who had been Kourtney Kardashian at my table. Despite having a good time, Yoder had envisioned that the event would have “a little bit more mystery-solving and not as much humor” prior to attending.
“The night was not what I expected,” Yoder said.
As it turns out, the event was so humorous because the emcees were professionals. AMP Films Chair Chloe Jones ’25 shared that the emcees were hired from a comedy acting group.
“They’re with the company Bachelor, and so they’re like two improvisational actors that come and kind of facilitate the event,” Jones said. “Every student gets an identity, so it’s student-based.”
Jones was involved in most of the event’s planning throughout the past several months. She recalled that preparations began as early as last semester.
“We did budgeting last November [and] December,” Jones said. “Murder mystery of some kind has been on our radar for a while.”
AMP member Brittany Walters ’25 also shared some insight on how AMP plans events like this Murder Mystery night.
“We basically went through the process of picking the location, and what we were going to do, [and] how we were going to accommodate everyone,” Walters said. Luckily, Tidewater provided the perfect atmosphere for a faux murder to occur.
Originally, AMP was going to show a murder movie — such as “Clue” or “Knives Out” — but eventually decided that a real, interactive event would be more memorable. In the end, it was a great choice; over 100 people attended, and AMP is already looking to do another murder mystery event in the future.