Picture of Derrick Dunn

Derrick Dunn

A Haunting in Venice is a chilling good time

For the third time, Kenneth Branagh wears two hats as director and star in 20th Century Studios A Haunting In Venice. Branagh steps back into the role of Agatha Christie’s fictional Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot. Michael Green pens the film’s screenplay, an adaptation of Agatha Christie’s beloved classic, Hallowe’en Party.

It’s post-World War II Venice, and Hercule Poirot is now retired and living in self-imposed exile in the world’s most glamorous city. One day, Ariadne (Tina Fey), an old friend and celebrated mystery author, reaches out to Poirot for a favor. She wants him to use his legendary skill set to expose a local psychic, Joyce Reynolds (Michelle Yeoh).

With some hesitation, Poirot finds himself in attendance at a séance arranged by Joyce. The event takes place in a decaying and haunted palazzo, adding an eerie and unsettling atmosphere to the gathering. The attendees include Rowena Drake, a mother consumed by grief and portrayed by Kelly Reilly; au pair Olga Seminoff, played by Camille Cottin; Leopold, an intelligent teenager portrayed by Jude Hill; and his military veteran father played by Jamie Dornan. Naturally, one of the guests falls victim to murder, and Hercule is thrust into a sinister world of shadows and secrets.

Before viewing Murder on the Orient Express in 2017, I had not had the opportunity to witness any depictions of the esteemed Hercule Poirot. However, following my screening of this film, I found myself enamored with the character and his unique sensibilities. Despite having an impressive ensemble for its cast, the follow-up Death on The Nile ultimately failed to meet my expectations and left me feeling underwhelmed. Armed with a sense of trepidation and the notion that the film would potentially fall prey to the dreaded third installment curse, I approached A Haunting in Venice with a degree of caution.

As the film has a murder mystery element, I aim to keep my review concise. Branagh effectively portrays Hercule Poirot, pleasing audiences familiar with the character. The director and writer avoid unnecessary delays and promptly establish the mystery for the protagonist to solve.

The supplementary actors seamlessly slip into their designated roles. At first, I had anticipated Tina Fey to deviate from her typical on-screen personas in the movie, but she remains consistent with her character and delivers some amusing instances.

This latest mystery featuring Poirot represents a significant improvement from the previous one. The film thoroughly captivates and intrigues the audience, keeping them guessing throughout its duration. Furthermore, it marks a delightful return to the thriller genre for Branagh, which he has avoided since the release of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in 1994. Here’s hoping Branagh continues to explore the horror genre.

Final Grade: B

A Haunting In Venice opens in theaters tonight.

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A Haunting in Venice is a chilling good time

A Haunting in Venice is a chilling good time