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Watch: the first trailer for Rian Johnson’s Knives Out tips its hat to Agatha Christie

Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Daniel Craig, Toni Colette, and many more stars pepper the murder mystery.

Alissa Wilkinson covers film and culture for Vox. Alissa is a member of the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Society of Film Critics.

Agatha Christie’s murder mysteries are having a moment. There are the movies explicitly based on her books, like 2017’s Murder on the Orient Express. And there are the movies that cheekily pay homage to her stories, like the recent Adam Sandler-Jennifer Aniston movie Murder Mystery.

And then there’s Knives Out, from Rian Johnson, the writer and director behind Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Looper, and Brick.

When the first trailer for Knives Out hit the web, it made two things clear. It’s definitely inspired by Agatha Christie’s murder mysteries (which Johnson confirmed earlier this year), in which the patriarch of a wealthy family is murdered, everyone in the family is under suspicion for having committed the crime, and the detectives must untangle a web of deceit in order to figure out who, uh, done it.

The second, as the trailer says outright, is that Knives Out will be unusually nervy and genre-bending — a “whodunnit like no one has ever dunnit.”

Johnson has made a career of both paying homage to genres and reinventing them. His debut feature, Brick, was a twist on the sunshine noir detective thriller, set in a California high school. Looper fiddled with the time-traveling sci-fi movie, while Brothers Bloom took on the con-man comedy. The Last Jedi put a new spin on the Star Wars saga as well. Johnson also directed several episodes of Breaking Bad, including the award-winning (and memorable) “Fly,” in which Walt and Jesse are driven slowly mad by a fly trapped in their meth lab.

So Knives Out seems like a natural progression, and one with a stacked cast: Daniel Craig (aka James Bond), Christopher Plummer (The Sound of Music), Toni Colette (Hereditary), Chris Evans (in his first post-Captain America role), Lakeith Stanfield (Sorry to Bother You), Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween), Michael Shannon (The Shape of Water), Don Johnson (Miami Vice), Ana de Arnas (Blade Runner 2049), Jaeden Martell (It), and Katherine Langford (13 Reasons Why) all appear in the trailer.

The trailer shows Craig and Stanfield as detectives, investigating the family about the death of the patriarch, played by Plummer, after his 85th birthday party, while a remix of Frank Sinatra’s “I’m Gonna Live Till I Die” plays. Each of the family members sits in front of a sunburst made of knives as they are interrogated. Soon, it appears, tensions run high. Foul play is suspected. And Johnson has said that the film also has a “Hitchcock thriller-type twist.”

And for his part, Johnson warned fans on Twitter not to watch even the trailer, if they wanted to go in completely unspoiled:

Knives Out is due in theaters this Thanksgiving.

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