As the franchise of films around Hercule Poirot, based on Agatha Christie’s novels, continues, A Haunting In Venice has a difficult task ahead. As the third film in the modern franchise of films, it follows Death On The Nile which ended up dragging out the heavy-handed exposition of the events at hand. Let’s dive into the trailer and then let’s talk about the third installment.
Belgian sleuth Hercule Poirot investigates a murder while attending a Halloween seance at a haunted palazzo in Venice, Italy.
A Haunting In Venice takes a more horror approach to the story with supernatural elements mixed in. The story involves the death of a young girl and a medium who claims she can speak with the dead. On All Hallows Eve, Poirot is called out of retirement by his close writer friend (played by Tina Fey), to debunk the medium as a fraud. Or perhaps confirm she is in fact legit? Of course, Poirot is always keen to find a simple and real solution to every crime he investigates but this one may just prove to push him to his limits.
The all-star cast brings together a slew of potential murders into a single home in Venice that, along with a cliche stormy night, leads to a series of events that even Poirot wasn’t expecting. The writer (Tina Fey), the medium (Michelle Yeoh) with her two assistants, the former fiance (Kyle Allen), the bodyguard (Riccardo Scamarcio), the doctor (Jamie Dornan) and his son (Jude Hill), and finally the mother (Kelly Reilly).
From a writing perspective, they took a less heavy-handed approach to the story by building in a short scary ghost story to tell the orphans celebrating Halloween that night, and that provides our initial clues and starting point for the mystery at hand. After that background, everything else is left to us to piece together the elements of what is going on with the typical questioning of each person, reviewing lists, and pitting everyone against the other.
From a directing standpoint, there were a few choices of camera work and styles that didn’t work so well in the film and felt off compared to the directors’ other works in the franchise. In particular, the use of a camera in the actor’s face pointed directly at him while running and moving with his head. It really didn’t add the intended scare factor they were hoping for. Nonetheless, all of the basic hallmarks of a scary story in an abandoned house were well set up.
When it comes to the twists and supernatural elements, well we will leave those bits to you the viewer. How far did you go before you figured out the answer? I will say there are several twists and while most made sense after they were explained, one I totally didn’t see coming and it was both dark and well hidden. While each of the cast did a decent job in their roles, I do want to call out Jude Hill, who we previously voted as Best Upcoming Talent for his work in Belfast. Seeing him jump into this genre after Belfast was a nice surprise and he proved himself well among the veteran actors.
The combined directing and writing for A Haunting In Venice mixed the right amount of scare and mystery to create an entertaining murder mystery/crime drama. Surpassing Death on The Nile may well be the best of all 3 of the modern films in this series of movies.
A Haunting In Venice is in theatres Sept 15th