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  • Writer's pictureDenise Breen

A Haunting in Venice - It leaves some loose threads but it's a satisfyingly spooky watch

3.5 out of 5

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.


This is Branagh's third adaptation of an Agatha Christie book for the big screen and while Branagh’s previous film Death on the Nile wasn’t massively loved, fans still generally appreciate Murder on the Orient Express, so this film was set to be the deciding factor. Thankfully, A Haunting in Venice holds up as a decent horror mystery movie, though some factors stand out more than others.


If there’s one thing that A Haunting in Venice does right, it’s create the perfect Halloween murder mystery vibe. While Kenneth Branagh’s films can sometimes be hit or miss, it’s arguable that he is underrated for his lack of fear in creative directing. Dutch angles and black-and-white visuals are a-plenty in this film, and thankfully this direction doesn’t feel forced for the most part.

This movie isn’t really scary, but it certainly has its ghostly moments, and the overall atmosphere is perfect for a spooky night film. Stormy visuals, haunting architecture, and a score by Hildur Guðnadóttir that doesn’t force jump-scares, but rather builds on the naturally created tension. There are also some funny moments, but thankfully Branagh shows restraint in his jokes, preventing the movie from feeling silly rather than suspenseful.


The acting, while sometimes a little stiff and repetitive, does have some standouts, with Jamie Dornan, Michelle Yeoh, and Branagh himself coming to mind. Not all of the characters are memorable like they were in Murder on the Orient Express, but the way in which said characters have been adapted from the source material is clever.

The movie has plenty of deviations from the original Agatha Christie novel, to the point where book fans may get mad, but the mystery thankfully still holds up. The killer is never fully obvious right until the end.


Granted, the way a major thematic discussion of the movie – that being whether or not ghosts exist – is resolved is an unsatisfying way, with a mystery surprisingly being left unsolved. The way A Haunting in Venice concludes its murder plot also feels like a cop-out, with its final climax with the killer needing little action from our main hero.


Kenneth Branagh's Agatha Christie franchise is likely to keep going strong, and that's a good thing. While far from the film of the year, A Haunting in Venice is looking to be the film of this year’s Hallowe'en, which certainly isn’t a bad feat.

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