A Haunting in Venice)

Just in time for the All Hallows Eve season comes another in the recent series of Agatha Christie novel adaptations from director Kenneth Branagh. While his 2017 Murder on the Orient Express and last year’s Death on the Nile received lukewarm critical receptions and found limited success, Branagh hopes to turn that ship around with his latest adaptation.

A Haunting in Venice brings a refreshing twist to Christie's quick-witted and charmingly self-deprecating Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, taking him into the realm of the supernatural. Screenwriter Michael Green seamlessly weaves together elements from Christie's Hallowe'en Party with her supernatural short stories, resulting in an intriguing adaptation that transports the audience to an enchanting Venetian Palazzo.


"Branagh and Green succeed in breathing new life into Agatha Christie's iconic detective"

The decision to change the setting from an English cottage to a Venetian Palazzo proves to be a good one as the grandeur and mystique of Venice provide a stunning backdrop for this ghostly tale. Haris Zambarloukos’s cinematography captures the city's unique ambiance, making it an essential character in the story. The use of canals, masks, and candlelit corridors adds an eerie and ethereal quality that elevates the film's atmosphere.

At its core, A Haunting in Venice is a classic ghost story, unfolding over a single spine-tingling night in 1947 as we meet Detective Poirot (Branagh) now retired from police work, disillusioned by humanity, and having shut himself off from the rest of world.

That is until mystery writer Ariadne Oliver (Tina Fey) informs the Detective about the inexplicably dangerous home of opera singer Rowena Drake (Kelly Reilly, Yellowstone) which has experienced more than one recent mysterious death. Rowena has hired a medium (Michelle Yeoh) to conduct a seance, but Ariadne thinks the psychic is a fake and wants Det. Poirot to expose her.A Haunting in Venice)

The tension builds steadily as Zambarloukos’s camera explores the dark corners and weather-worn stairwells of the spooky palazzo, and director Kenneth Branagh expertly utilizes the Venitian Gothic architecture to enhance the eerie ambiance. We are drawn into the mystery, and as the supernatural events unfold, we can't help but find ourselves invested in the whodunnit story.

What truly sets this adaptation apart in the trilogy is the exploration of Hercule Poirot's character. Unlike the two previous films which primarily dealt with broad themes of revenge and greed, A Haunting in Venice delves into the supernatural, offering a fresh perspective on the famous detective. Branagh's portrayal of Poirot is both vulnerable and resolute as he confronts forces beyond the scope of his usual deductive skills. This depth adds a layer of complexity to the character that Christie's original story – as well as the two previous installments – did not provide.

The supporting cast also shines in their roles, with each character contributing to the overall mystery. Reilly delivers a captivating performance as the enigmatic Venetian hostess, while a talented ensemble cast of suspects featuring Jamie Dornan, Dylan Crobett-Bader, Jude Hill, and others, keeps you guessing until the very end.

The film maintains a slightly slower pace than the other Poirot adaptations which might spell a bit of doom for some viewers, but this deliberate pacing allows for more robust character building and atmospheric immersion. In addition, the haunting score complements the visuals beautifully, adding to the overall sense of unease.

With A Haunting in Venice, Branagh and Green succeed in breathing new life into Agatha Christie's iconic detective. But is it enough to power this installment above the previous two and keep the series a strong recommend? Probably not.

However, their addition of the supernatural element provides an intriguing departure from this Poirot mystery series. The Venetian setting, the palpable sense of dread, and the reimagining of the Poirot character make the film a memorable addition to the Christie cinematic universe.

3/5 stars

Film Details

A Haunting in Venice

MPAA Rating: PG-13.
103 mins
: Kenneth Branagh
Michael Green
Kenneth Branagh; Michelle Yeoh; Jamie Dornan
: Mystery | Crime

Memorable Movie Quote: "for once in your life, admit that you're up against something bigger than you"
Theatrical Distributor:
20th Century Fox
Official Site: https://www.20thcenturystudios.com/movies/a-haunting-in-venice
Release Date:
September 15, 2023
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:

Synopsis: In post-World War II Venice, Poirot, now retired and living in his own exile, reluctantly attends a seance. But when one of the guests is murdered, it is up to the former detective to once again uncover the killer.


A Haunting in Venice