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Review: A Haunting in Venice – Branagh’s hip-upper-lipped hero-sleuth returns

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A Haunting in Venice

Rating: 9 out of 10.
A Haunting in Venice
A Haunting in Venice

Rating: 9 out of 10.

The hip-upper-lipped hero-sleuth, Hercule Poirot, is back in A Haunting in Venice, the third of director Kenneth Branagh’s series of murder mystery films based on the famous Agatha Christie stories. (See the previous Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile.)

Branagh also stars as the fabulously facial-haired Poirot in these movies and I’m not only infatuated with his moustache, I also love what he has done with the series and with his take on the eccentric character. His ensemble casting choices of these films is impeccable, and the period set designs are on point.

This story is based on Christie’s novel Hallowe’en Party and has the retired Poirot prompted back into detective action by his friend and the author of books about him, Ariadne Oliver (Tina Fey). She pulls him into a séance in an effort to reveal a fraudulent medium, played by Michelle Yeoh.

The séance takes place in a creepy, old Venetian building owned by Rowena Drake (Kelly Reilly from the Yellowstone TV series), who hopes to speak to the ghost of her daughter who died there. The building is almost a character in itself, with a history of murdered children on its premises.

A Haunting in Venice

Before you can say whodunit, things start going spookily awry and it’s up to Poirot to keep a level head and see below the surface of all the ghostly ghoulishness. The film is genuinely frightening in parts, and I don’t mean just the apple-bobbing sequences. (I mean, who ever thought this was a good idea?)  It is fun to watch Poirot questioning his usual ultra-rational grasp of reality.

The location is beautiful and the cinematography in this film by Haris Zambarloukos is first rate. I loved the instances where they filmed Poirot in a stylish first-person perspective – sort of like a super-sleuth version of The Blair Witch Project.

Although it’s coming out this September, this would make a wonderful Halloween date movie and it’s another fun trick and treat for fans of Agatha Christie, Hercule Poirot and mystery fans in general.

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About the author

Bob Leeper

Bob Leeper is the co-owner and manager of "Arizona’s Pop Culture and Alternative Art Network," Evermore Nevermore. He is the co-creator of the pop culture events Steampunk Street and ENCREDICON, and is a member of the Phoenix Film Critics Society. He also curates the Facebook fan site The Arizona Cave – AZ Fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and is one of the few brave and bold fans of Jar Jar Binks.