Mansion of Murder & More: Filming of ‘Knives Out’

This American mystery film was directed by Rian Johnson and distributed by Lionsgate and MRC. The star cast includes notable actors like Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, Katherine Langford, Jaeden Martell, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Lakeith Stanfield,and Christopher Plummer.

The story is about a wealthy mystery novelist, Harlan Thrombey, who lives in his Massachusetts mansion with the help of his devoted personal nurse and a friend, Marta Cabrera (aka Ana de Armas). His family comes to attend his 85th birthday party and the next morning they find him dead. Here comes the best part – the police would rely on the possibilities of suicide, but a private detective Benoit Blanc (aka Daniel Craig), thinks otherwise. An anonymous person paid Blanc to investigate this case. And this is where all the family members are investigated, and the game begins.

To film this kind of mysterious story, the makers had to think of a house with an eerie atmosphere. The whole movie will have two types of homes – Harlan Thrombey’s Massachusetts mansion and a modern one in which Harken’s grandson Hugh Ransom Drysdale (aka Chris Evans) lives.

However, the director Rian Johnson used three main filming locations – an estate to shoot the exterior scenes of the Harlan mansion, a house to shoot the interior scenes of it, and another home to shoot the scenes occurring in Ransom’s house.

Why was “Knives Out” Filmed at an Old Mansion?

Ever since the birth of cinema and film industries, the old-fashioned crime-solving murder mystery movies will have an ominous mansion that has witnessed many secrets than the people who live there.

The director wasn’t looking for a specific kind of architecture. The basic rule was that both the indoor and outdoor of the house should look like the house that Harlan Thrombey has explained in one of his mysterious stories. “The moment we walked into the mansion, we knew right away that it had the personality we needed,” says David Crank, the production designer of this film.

Harlan’s Inner Sanctum

Both the houses used for filming didn’t give a satisfying result in case of the office room of Harlan Thrombey, a cozy red study room with a low, arched ceiling. That sanctum is an essential part of the movie, where almost all the family members would sneak in and out of it. So, Crank didn’t have any other choice, but to use sets.

The director had to shoot the characters’ movements in actual houses and the part where the characters sneak to Harlan’s study in the sets.

He said they had around three weeks to get the office ready for shooting which is very little time. So, they had to work faster. The fun fact is that the way the crew built the office hallway and the upper floor probably would not have fit in the actual house we saw in the film. However, this set was constructed so that the characters would sneak into it without being seen, and Crank said that he was happy about how the scenes were in the final cut.

Knives Out Filming Locations

Ames Mansion

The mansion has some magnificent interior structures, such as the main hall, library, and lobby. You must have seen Ames mansion in the 1972 Oscar-nominated mystery film, Sleuth, which, in turn, was Johnson’s primary inspiration for this film and Martin Scorsese’s 2010 thriller film, “Shutter Island.”

Another challenging task for the production designer is setting this mansion with some novels in the library and few other items that corroborate with Harlan’s personality in several places. But, the set design is not inspired by the famous board (or Tim Curry’s movie), Clue Board which is also the favorite board game of Harlan.

He is also an addictive collector of dolls and automata. If you have looked deeply, you would have noticed a large dollhouse over the shoulder of Benoit Blanc. And, the automata was the director’s idea with respect to ‘Sleuth,’ especially the sailor figure placed by the door.

The production designer said that they fitted the characters as they are also mysterious and super creepy. They had to purchase them from a collector.

One of the major props in that house is the chair with the ring of knives pointing to whoever is sitting in it. However, the chair wasn’t supposed to look like the iron throne from “Game of Thrones.”

Ames mansion was built as a private residence in 1910 and owned by the same family for over 100 years. However, it serves as a part of Borderland State Park in Massachusetts. The park is being operated by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation. As a tribute to the film, the mansion now features a dozen dollhouses and automata.

Address: 257 Massapoag Ave, North Easton, MA 02356, USA

Price to visit: $10 per person; FREE for children and members of the community.

Thrombey Estate

Thrombey estate is an actual mansion with a gothic structure. It was built in 1890 and around 93 acres located just outside Boston. The original estate used is private property, and the film Boston Globe. makers did not disclose the name of the estate as per the contract, declares the It is not open for public visits either.

Ransom’s Modern House

There are some scenes involving Marta and Ransom discussing in Ransom’s house. The original house was built in the 1950s. It is a modernist-style house located in Lincoln, Massachusetts.

The house came to the market in early 2020. And, there is a description of the house saying, “This dazzling International Style Mid-Century-Modern is located in the Modernist enclave of Brown’s Wood. It was designed by Walter Pierce, versed by Bauhaus and West Coast-via-Japan architectural principles. The house has a master suite with a dressing room, three bedrooms, two bathrooms, an independent garage, and has the provinces to provide natural gas for heating and cooking. You would have seen this house as a filming location in the 2019 mystery movie, Knives Out.”

This house is one of the 23 built to establish a community with the help of the era’s best local modernist architects.

Other Minor Locations

On The Trax

This place is the neighborhood bar and grill where the scene Ransom would talk to Marta was shot. It is previously known as Flat Penny Bar and Grill.

Address: 263 West St, Berlin, MA, USA

Norfolk County Medical Examiner Building

This medical examiner building is actually an old registry of Motor Vehicles building located on Maple street of Marlborough.

Downtown Natick

A major car chase scene is present in this movie involving Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Daniel Craig, and the police. It was taken in Downtown Natick, a town in Middlesex County of the Greater Boston area, mainly on Main Street and Central Street.


The car chase was also shot at Maynard Mill, now called the Clack Tower Place.

Some of the other locations used include John’s Cleaners in Main Street, the alley in Waltham, which is on the right of Moody Street, the Medfield State Hospital, and Canton.

Due to the film’s huge success, Lionsgate announced that it is planning to shoot a sequel. Rian Johnson did a great job providing us the best crime-solving murder mystery film starring some famous actors. The everlasting-search-for-answers personality of Daniel Craig, the black sheep-ish act of Chris Evans, and the dedicated and friendly charisma of Ana de Armes are definitely appreciable performances. Overall, the inside and outside of the Thrombey estate were great.