A Haunting in Venice
review by Bobby Blakey
In 2017 director Kenneth Branagh stepped not only directed but also took on the role of iconic detective Hercule Poirot in Murder on the Orient Express based on the classic novel from Agatha Christie. In 2022 Branagh returned to the role and directors chair for another Christie novel Death on the Nile. Now he is back in both roles once again this time for A Haunting In Venice based on her novel “Hallowe’en Party” featuring a great ensemble cast including Kyle Allen, Camille Cottin, Jamie Dornan, Tina Fey, Jude Hill, Ali Khan, Emma Laird, Kelly Reilly, Riccardo Scamarcio, and Michelle Yeoh.
A Haunting in Venice follows a terrifying mystery featuring the return of the celebrated sleuth, Hercule Poirot in post-World War II Venice on All Hallows’ Eve. Now retired and living in self-imposed exile in the world’s most glamorous city, Poirot reluctantly attends a séance at a decaying, haunted palazzo. When one of the guests is murdered, the detective is thrust into a sinister world of shadows and secrets.
I have really enjoyed this series so far and Branagh is so good as Poirot, so I was excited to see yet another entry. The trailers here had me even more intrigued to this mystery with it seemingly focused on a haunted house theme. The story and tone of it all is so different than the previous two films and brought a freshness to it that I really loved. I have never read any of the Christie books so it’s always fresh to me heading into these stories.
I have to say that while I did enjoy this one quite a bit, it might be my least favorite of the series so far. That being said it is still really good. Branagh is great both in front and behind the camera once again. He perfectly captures
the essence of the story with the tone feeding the mystery without ever feeling like it doesn’t belong in the same universe. The rest fo the cast are great, but was bummed Michelle Yeoh’s part was so small. That is more of a personal issue than anything and doesn’t hinder the film in any way.
The mystery is engaging and even though not hard to figure out still delivers what you might expect from this series. I think where it falls a bit is not getting the usual Poirot in his usual form. This is a welcome change to get to see him in a different light while still doing his thing, but he is so great in the others films with the confidence and purpose that it is just so much fun to watch and that’s different here. He is still excellent, but due to his retirement and lack of initial interest in this case made him faulter a bit from the norm. That is part of the story and again just my own issue with the change and not a bad thing overall.
I loved the film still so saying it is my least favorite of the franchise so far is not meant to take away from it at all. It is just my own opinion and the film is still a great entry. If you like the first two films then I have no doubt you will enjoy this one as well and I hope this isn’t the last of Branagh as Poirot.
In addition to the film this release will offer up bonus content including deleted scenes and a featurette on bringing this latest Agatha Christie mystery to life. Join Poirot for his next case with A Haunting In Venice available now on digital and Hulu and then on Blu-ray and DVD on November 28th from 20th Century Studios.