Kenneth Branagh has devoted several of his recent career years to adapting some of Agatha Christie’s mysteries, which only means he loves the source material. While I moderately liked Murder on the Orient Express but was not impressed with his take on Death on the Nile, I attended this screening with tempered expectations. Thankfully, this latest foray into the investigative adventures of Hercule Poirot has more to offer audiences besides a “by-the-book, whodunnit” mystery. Combining mystery and horror is the winning formula for Branagh, who delivers an exciting and mysterious thriller for cinema’s Halloween season.
Kenneth Branagh returns to direct and star as Hercule Poirot, Agatha Christie’s celebrated sleuth. At the start of the film, Poirot has abandoned his career and has pursued the joys of retirement in Venice despite the demands of his popularity. His friend Ariadne Oliver (Tina Fey), a successful author, begs Poirot to join her for a traditional Halloween celebration in what is supposed to be a haunted orphanage. While the festivities involve fun and games for children, the after-party plans involve a séance where the adults utilize the skills of the medium Joyce Reynolds (Michelle Yeoh) to communicate with the dead.
As fate would have it, things don’t exactly go according to plan, and supposedly influential medium Reynolds dies by either murder or suicide. Considering that, just before Reynold’s demise, an attempt is made to kill Poirot, the skillful detective decides to use his skills as a detective to uncover the truth behind the night’s events despite experiencing what seems to be some supernatural phenomena.
As a fan of both horror and murder mysteries, this particular story is definitely up my alley. With this inspired and thrilling material, Branagh and his crew create the perfect atmosphere to deliver fright, thrills, and tension. This movie is Branagh’s most inspired and successful attempt at adapting Christie’s material. Though I have never once read an Agatha Christie novel, this is one of her work’s more riveting and exciting adaptations.
Benefitting from a great ensemble cast, A Haunting in Venice works its magic well because of the inspired performances of the actors. In addition to enjoyable and compelling work by Branagh and Fey, the film features assiduous turns by Kyle Allen, Camile Cottin, Jamie Dornan, Jude Hill, Ali Khan, Emma Laird, Kelly Reilly, Riccardo Scamarcio, and Michelle Yeoh. This film presents Branagh’s best assembly of talent in his Poirot series.
As this movie pleased and entertained this fan of both mystery and horror films, A Haunting in Venice will indeed have the same impact on audiences who enjoy this delightful and entertaining blend in movies. I suggest seeing this film in a dark theater with the best projection and sound system possible. Branagh’s latest entry deserves the whole immersive experience.