top of page


Hercule Poirot goes oddly gothic in A Haunting in Venice which not only has a lackluster denouement but also never quite knows if it wants to be a detective tale or a ghost story.

It should be applauded that for his third outing as Belgian detective Hercule Poirot Kenneth Branagh didn't go for a familiar Agatha Christie tale but for one of her more obscure ones. Still, A Haunting in Venice proves there probably is a sound reason why this particular story has never graced the big screen before.

The picture is based on the novel Hallowe'en Party but throws out most of the original plot and (smartly) its setting, substituting the English countryside for a decrepid Venice house by the canals, where after an eventful séance on a 1947 Halloween night a murder occurs and Poirot is called upon to investigate.

None of what follows is remotely novel or surprising though,as Branagh rehashes the familiar Agatha Christie recipe only to season it with horror elements. Had he done so with nuance and restraint, that might have worked, but the director is as schlocky as your average B-movie helmer. The dutch angles, the shrieking soundtrack and the plethora of jump scares get tired before the first murder is committed.

Even the mandatory celebrity cast has an odd second-rate feeling about it. Michelle Yeoh has a bit of fun as a cocksure ghost whisperer but Tina Fey is awful as an American author and the rest of the actors mainly sleepwalk through there underdeveloped roles.

This rushed, unfinished feeling extends to A Haunting in Venice as a whole. One can't help but feel that a much better film (if unlikely a great one) was left on the cutting room floor.

release: 2023

director: Kenneth Branagh

starring: Kenneth Branagh, Tina Fey, Michelle Yeoh, Kelly Reilly


bottom of page