Kenneth Branagh returns to the director's chair and reprises his role as the iconic Hercule Poirot in A Haunting In Venice, the latest instalment in his series of Agatha Christie adaptations. Set against the backdrop of post-World War II Venice, this film weaves together murder mystery and supernatural elements to create a captivating and fast-paced chiller that keeps audiences engaged from start to finish.
Poirot, now retired and living in self-imposed exile, finds himself drawn into a seance organised by his novelist friend Ariadne Oliver, portrayed by Tina Fey. However, what begins as an innocent gathering takes a sinister turn when one of the guests is murdered. With his detective instincts still sharp, Poirot once again steps into the role of investigator, determined to unravel the enigma surrounding this crime.
The previous entries in Branagh's Agatha Christie series, Murder On The Orient Express (2017) and Death On The Nile (2022), were both enjoyable murder mysteries in their own right. However, A Haunting In Venice introduces a refreshing twist by blending murder mystery with elements of the supernatural and horror genres. For fans of horror, this fusion adds an extra layer of intrigue to the film, making it unique in the series.
One consistent strength across all three films in this series is Branagh's portrayal of Poirot. Branagh captures the essence of the character flawlessly, embodying Poirot's eccentricities, peculiar mannerisms and sharp intellect. Despite his odd behaviour and blunt speech, Poirot remains immensely likeable and charismatic, adding depth and charm to each scene he graces. Branagh's performance continues to be the anchor that holds the series together.
Branagh also assembles an outstanding ensemble cast to support Poirot's investigations. Michelle Yeoh shines as Mrs Reynolds, a psychic medium with limited screen time but an undeniable presence that steals every scene she appears in. Tina Fey, in a departure from her comedic roles, delivers a solid performance as Ariadne Oliver, an author who seizes the opportunity to document the events unfolding within the haunted mansion.
The cast of A Haunting In Venice.
The majority of the film's action unfolds within the confines of the mansion, a grand and imposing structure that paradoxically induces a sense of claustrophobia. The decision to keep the characters isolated within the mansion intensifies the feeling of entrapment as Poirot declares that no one can leave until the murder is solved. This claustrophobic atmosphere adds a palpable layer of tension to the narrative, making the audience feel as though they are trapped alongside the characters.
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of A Haunting In Venice is witnessing Poirot's journey of self-discovery and reflection. Initially, he enters the story with scepticism, dismissing the supernatural as nonsense and aiming to debunk any paranormal claims. However, as he encounters inexplicable occurrences and unexplained phenomena, the film delves into the internal conflict within Poirot's rational mind. This character evolution adds depth to the narrative, challenging Poirot's steadfast reliance on logic and introducing a compelling dynamic between his logical philosophy and the supernatural elements at play. In contrast to its predecessors, where the murder mystery took centre stage, this film places a greater emphasis on the supernatural elements. The juxtaposition of Poirot's logical reasoning with the inexplicable occurrences creates a captivating tension that propels the story forward. However, while the murder mystery aspects are present, they feel somewhat rushed and lack the emotional depth found in the previous films. Consequently, the murder mysteries in A Haunting In Venice fail to establish the same level of meaningful connection with the audience.
A Haunting In Venice may not surpass the excellence of its predecessors in the franchise, but it succeeds in carving its own niche. If you are a fan of murder mysteries, Agatha Christie's timeless stories and Kenneth Branagh's masterful direction, this film is entertaining enough and worth checking out to get you into the spooky season.
- A Haunting In Venice
- Starring Kenneth Branagh, Tina Fey, Michelle Yeoh
- Directed by Kenneth Branagh