Knives Out Sequel Title ‘Wake Up Dead Man’ Promises A Darker Benoit Blanc Mystery

By choosing a dreary U2 song for its title, the Knives Out sequel Wake Up Dead Man seems to be going deeper and darker than before.

Ana De Armas and Daniel Craig in Knives Out
Photo: Lionsgate

“Jesus, Jesus help me,” sings Bono, front man of the classic Irish rock band U2. “I’m alone in this world, and a fucked up world it is too.” Even though U2 fans had long grown used to Bono’s mixture of Christian faith and endless ennui by the time the band released the techno-infused album Pop in 1997, the frankness displayed in the song “Wake Up Dead Man” shocked and dismayed listeners.

Alongside the playful dance track “Discothèque” and sultry numbers such as “The Playboy Mansion” and “If You Wear That Red Dress,” “Wake Up Dead Man” had a raw honesty that U2 hadn’t shown since their anthemic hit records The Unforgettable Fire and The Joshua Tree. Since 1991’s Achtung Baby, U2 had abandoned their earnest approach for postmodern games that commented upon the Death of God by embracing and satirizing secular capitalism. Yet with “Wake Up Dead Man,” Bono didn’t dress-up like a Ronald McDonald Devil or hide his eyes behind wraparound shades. He spoke freely about his anger at God for failing to fix a world of meaningless suffering.

Earlier today, “Wake Up Dead Man” shocked a whole new generation of pop culture fans when director Rian Johnson announced the title of his next movie: Wake Up Dead Man: A Knives Out Mystery. The third such film for Johnson, Wake Up Dead Man will be coming to Netflix next year as the latest adventure of Daniel Craig‘s Southern fried detective Benoit Blanc.

It came as no surprise that Johnson would choose a pop song’s name for his movie’s title. After all, the previous film is named itself after the Beatles’ track “Glass Onion,” which appeared on the White Album in 1968. In fact, now that we think about it, Radiohead released a song called “Knives Out” on their 2001 album Amnesiac.

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Speaking to the LA Times about the connection between Knives Out and Radiohead, Johnson admitted that he named the film after the English group’s work, but that’s as far as the similarities went. “Obviously, the movie has nothing to do with the song,” he stated. “I’m just a massive Radiohead fan, and I love that album and I love that song. That phrase, that turn of phrase has always stuck in my head. And it just seemed like a great title for a murder mystery.”

The song “Knives Out” doesn’t even play in the film (“I doubt we could afford that,” Johnson told the newspaper), but the Beatles’ “Glass Onion” does feature in the closing credits of Glass Onion. The song’s metaphor about something appearing infinitely complex (like the many layers of an onion) yet is still utterly transparent also played as a more direct theme for a sequel , in retrospect, both the killer and the pettiness of their motive should be glaringly obvious.

So Wake Up Dead Man may or may not correspond with the infamous U2 track. However, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Johnson would take more direct inspiration from the song. The spiritual distress that Bono captures in “Wake Up Dead Man” surely resonates with former youth group kid Johnson.

Moreover, like most mysteries, Knives Out and its sequels are about the search for meaning. As indicated by the donut hole analogy Blanc uses in the first film, his search for clues takes him to a missing piece that causes everything else make sense. Glass Onion tested Blanc by posing him with a solution that made no logical sense and was, instead, “just dumb.”

But if a new mystery proves so upsetting or vexing that it lends itself to no meaning, Blanc just might sing along with Bono’s complaint. Or he might just skip to a more uptempo number like “Last Night on Earth” and dance in his impeccable outfits. Either way we’ll be watching on day one.

Wake Up Dead Man: A Knives Out Mystery comes to Netflix in 2025.

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