A Haunting in Venice
Director: Kenneth Branagh
A Haunting in Venice is the 3rd film in the Hercule Poirot film trilogy with Kenneth Branagh both directing and starring once again. This is quite a good follow up and it might be tied for my favourite in the trilogy. I have found all these Agatha Christie adaptations to be fun, suspenseful, and creative mysteries.
I love the exotic locations and the atmosphere that comes with the single-location mysteries that no one can leave. This series has a certain elegance to it that the other murder mystery/ detective series do not. This is a series that knows its audience and plays to it. Having said that this installment adds a supernatural element that leans this film into the horror genre, though I think this benefits the film.
What Happens in A Haunting in Venice?
In this adventure, we see that Hercule Poirot has grown older and has retired from solving cases. On Halloween, Poirot is invited to attend a séance with his friend Ariadne Oliver, a mystery writer who used Poirot’s cases for inspiration for a couple of her stories. The séance is for a woman who lost her daughter and is looking for a way to communicate with her dead child.
A renowned medium by the name of Joyce Reynolds is performing the séance and Ariadne is trying to expose Joyce as a fraud and is hoping Poirot will be capable of proving it. Along with those three, the séance also has a grieving mother by the name of Rowena, a doctor with PTSD named Leslie, his son Leopold, the dead daughter’s fiancé named Maxime, and a housekeeper named Olga. After an initial attempt to contact the spirit of Rowena’s dead daughter, one of the guests in attendance is murdered. This springs Poirot back into action as he tries to discover if the murderer is human or supernatural.
A Haunting in Venice Review
I felt that this film really went full in with the idea of being a horror film. It is constantly trying to give you the vibe of a supernatural presence with doors and windows flying open, objects falling with a crash, and an unplaceable voice that is constantly heard. The imagery in the film puts in that mood as 95% of the film takes place at night and even while indoors it is dark. The only light in most rooms is candles that add to the atmosphere of the movie.
The movie has a couple of jump scares and after the first one, you are consistently wondering when the next one is going to happen. Every creak and sound could be a possible attack or another murder. The audience is constantly on their toes. I like the way the film plays with the supernatural as well because it never gives s a 100% clear indication as to whether or not the supernatural events that take place are real or are they imaginary. I like that it leaves it for the viewer to decide.
The acting from the entire cast is great. I think that Branagh as Poirot only improves with each film and now he gets to play a different version of this character as he has been out of the game for a while and is trying to return to form. He is a skeptic as always but with the added layer of the supernatural, we get to see his belief tested and whether he believes that there might be a supernatural element to this mystery.
Tina Fey as the mystery writer, Ariadne Oliver, does an excellent job opposite Branagh. She brings an energy and a wit that perfectly counteracts the character of Poirot. She also provides the most humor in the film which was necessary so the film did not become too heavy.
The mystery itself is quite compelling, and I was interested in the way it unravelled. I have read many books and seen many movies, and I have become better at predicting what might occur in a plot. However, in this film’s case, besides one hint that is given about a third into it, I had no idea who committed the murder.
Even with me trying to piece it together I found each element presented to be compelling and I was always curious to see how it was slotted into the narrative. The twists and reveals in this film were more shocking than the ones in the previous films in my opinion. I think being able to use Agatha Christie’s novels as inspiration surely helps write the gripping narratives.
In terms of negatives, I have only one, without Tina Fey’s character this film becomes quite dark both with the actual light on the screen and the themes. Without many moments of levity be prepared for how bleak the story can feel at times. I personally think it makes this entry stand out more than the first two but I could see it turning some viewers away.
Overall, A Haunting in Venice is another fun and compelling Hercule Poirot mystery. With many twists and turns, compelling characters, and a horror element that makes this entry distinct this checks all the boxes of a fun whodunit mystery. So, if this is a genre you enjoy I would definitely recommend you check it out!