A Haunting in Venice Echoes the Best of the Trilogy

Kenneth Branagh's Hercule Poirot dives across genres into the realms of horror!

Reader Rating0 Votes
A fantastic ensemble cast
Somehow one of the best horror films in the last decade
A great conclusion, leaving us wanting more
The plot is a little predictable, subtlety is not as strong a suit
Tina Fey's Tina Fey-ness somewhat breaks immersion
Is this the end of Branagh's Hercule Poirot series?

Kenneth Branagh’s third outing as famed Agatha Christie character Hercule Poirot sees the master detective take on a mystery no living man has ever foiled: death. Touching on the pseudo mysticisms and superstitions rife in the early 20th century, A Haunting In Venice borrows from Christie’s 1969 novel Hallowe’en Party.

The best horror films have always been rooted in mystery. What a spirit or demon wants, why a certain person is chosen to be possessed, how such an invasion of mind and matter can come to be–these are some of the questions that good horror plants in the minds of its viewers. And, above all, what do I do if it happens to me?

Although the Hercule Poirot trilogy has been served with consistently high quality mystery writing, the true brilliance of A Haunting in Venice may be more evident to those who enjoy horror. 

While Kenneth Branagh and screenwriter Michael Green have deftly handle Hercule Poirot and his mysteries, the pall of under-written characters is a constant presence to films of this nature. Even with its very first sequel, Death on the Nile, some of the characters were plagued by lack lustre writing (or perhaps acting). So it is a realistic fear that the same may have occurred with A Haunting in Venice.

Thankfully, it does not. Green and Branagh’s take on each character lends them all some interest. Even those whom are suspect are likeable, and those that are well-liked are not above suspicion.

There are moments where it feels, like many a whodunnit tale, that there may be just one character too many. But these moments are quickly rectified with wit or revelation, sometimes to remove suspicion from a character… or the character entirely.

Kenneth Branagh’s performance as detective Poirot continues to inspire and immerse, with the rest of the cast matching the calibre of 2017’s Murder on the Orient, the film which kicked off this series. His foil, this time, is another Agatha Christie staple, Ariadne Oliver, played by writer and actress Tina Fey.

Herein lies perhaps the only tic in the grand scheme of the film with Fey’s character sometimes compromising the immersion of the Venetian mystery. While much of it is exmplined by the cus of the third act, it is questionable if Fey was the best choice for the role. Nevertheless, her experience as comedienne resounds perfectly with Branagh, and one can’t help but feel Fey may have channeled Christie as much as the author may have channeled herself into the written character.

Similarly, a good bulk of the film employs somewhat unique camerawork which may be jarring to many viewers. The intent to create a sense of loss and disorientation is perfectly executed, but may come at the cost of distracting some audience.

In all, Branagh’s return as Poirot remains remarkable, and concludes the film with us only wanting more. And, as with all true horrors, the indelible mark of this tale, too, is the tragedy that plagues all.

A Haunting in Venice is now in theatre, and would be a pleasure to behold on larger screens.