Why Rian Johnson wanted to make Knives Out a modern-day whodunit

Illustration by Grayson Blackmon / The Verge; Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin / Getty Images

Rian Johnson’s new film Knives Out is a devoted love letter to the whodunit genre — from its Poirot-esque detective Benoit Blanc, played by Daniel Craig with an over-the-top Southern drawl, to its apparent murder victim Harlan Thrombey, an aging mystery author who “practically lives in a Clue board.” But it’s also a sharply contemporary project, not an Agatha Christie period piece. Even as Knives Out creates a familiar cozy atmosphere, it draws on present-day archetypes and culture-war conflicts, sketching a modern American family whose motives for murder are instantly recognizable.

For Rian Johnson, who wrote and directed Knives Out after working on Star Wars: The Last Jedi, breaking the whodunit’s comforting and familiar elements out…

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Author: Adi Robertson