Movie and Film Reviews (MFR) Mystery Supernatural Meets the Detective

Supernatural Meets the Detective

“A Haunting in Venice” was directed by Kenneth Branagh and serves as 3rd film following 2017’s “Murder on the Orient Express” & 2022’s “A Death on the Nile” which also starred & were directed by Branagh. He stars as the famous Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot and is joined by Tina Fey, Jamie Dornan, Kelly Reilly, Kyle Allen, Camille Cottin, Riccardo Scamarcio & Michelle Yeoh. This film is based on the 1969 novel, “Hallowe’en Party” by Agatha Christie who the same novels the 2 other films were based on. Michael Green also returns as the writer of the film after writing the previous 2 films.

In 1947, the now retired Detective Poirot (Branagh) is enjoyment in seclusion in Venice when an old colleague of his, Ariadne Oliver (Fey), a murder mystery writer, invites him to Halloween party at the palazzo of famed opera singer, Rowena Drake (Reilly). The purpose of this party is exposing famed medium & former WWI nurse, Joyce Reynolds (Yeoh), however, Rowena hopes to use her powers to communicate with her deceased daughter. At the party, a seance is performed and goes well enough to have everyone believe in Joyce. However, when Joyce turns up dead, Poirot locks down the palazzo & begins his investigation on the remaining guests. Olga (Cottin), the housekeeper, Dr. Leslie Ferrier (Dornan) the doctor who treated Rowena’s daughter & herself, Maxime Gerard (Allen), Rowena’s daughter’s ex-lover, Ariadne Oliver, Vitale Portfoglio (Scamarcio), a former police officer & Poirot’s bodyguard and Rowena Drake herself.

The first 2 films follow a very basic “whodunnit” type of scenario but with Branagh’s directing, the tone felt a bit different from other murder mysteries and really stood out. “Venice” was a much darker tone and felt more like a supernatural horror film than a murder mystery. This was a really good film and had great performances both in front and behind the camera. Branagh delivers a great performance as the detective and does an amazing job with directing as well. The look, feel and tone are much darker than the previous 2 films. Rather than being a full-fledged horror film, Branagh takes the more supernatural approach, much like an episode of “X-Files”, it does have those tense moments but does not have the over used jump scares. Not too scary but not too obvious either. Branagh used the more of the aesthetics of the palazzo itself without having to add more scary elements. The story keeps you on your toes as it progresses. It never dips in quality or drags at any point. It’s very similar to Guy Ritchie’s first “Sherlock Holmes” film, starring Robert Downey Jr. While the Holmes’ film was more action adventure, Branagh’s film was more dark murder mystery and that made the difference.

In my opinion, in the post pandemic era, movies like this deserve to be seen in the theater and applauded. It was a great murder mystery with a supernatural feel to it. Branagh delivers a great performance both as the main character & the director. The remaining cast do a fantastic job as well. The look & feel were incredible. This film not only shows you what a great actor he is but also what a great job directing. From the first 2 films as well as the first “Thor” film, 2014’s “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit”, 2015’s “Cinderella” or even 1996’s “Hamlet”. The guy has proved himself to be as diverse a director than actor. Hopefully, he’ll bring us more films like this one.


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