Review (12/09/23 Scott Mc Cutcheon)

With few films in cinemas, other than a handful of exceptions like Barbie and Oppenheimer, failing to make money, the one genre that seems to buck that trend has been horror films. So for Kenneth Branagh and the studio executives it must have seemed like a good idea for Branagh’s next outing as detective Hercule Poirot’s to be a horror film.

Sadly A Haunting In Venice is neither a great Hercule Poirot or horror film.

Based upon the novel “Hallowe’en Party” by Agatha Christie, A Haunting In Venice, thanks to a confusing and terribly slow story, seems much longer than its relatively short running time of 1 hour 43 minutes.

Set in 1947 Poirot (Branagh) has now retired from detective work. Spending time in his garden and being minded by a bodyguard (Riccardo Scamarcio) he’s brought out of retirement after being approached by Ariandne Oliver (Tina Fey), an author of mystery books who wants Poirot to attend a séance where she wants him to prove that the psychic (Michelle Yeoh) is a fake.

As is the way with all Agatha Christie thrillers a starry cast of characters are also invited to the séance. There’s the famous opera singer (Kelly Reilly), whose hosting the party in her palatial palazzo, and who want’s the psychic to contact her dead daughter Alice. There’s the devoted house keeper (Camille Cottin) as well as Dr Ferrier (Jamie Dornan) whose there with his son (Jude Hill) and suffers depression after his experiences in the war.

It’s no spoiler to say that, as always happens when Poirot’s about, someone gets murdered.

Branagh tries to throw in a supernatural twist to the plot but it never really works as, like Poirot, we, the audience know that ghosts don’t really exist.

Most of the cast are under used with some disappearing for long periods of the films running time whilst Branagh tries to fill the first twenty minutes with as much of the characters back stories that it becomes all so slightly confusing.

With hindsight Branagh should have stopped at Murder on the Orient Express as the film series seems to be running on diminishing returns. Death on the Nile, with all its CGI, wasn’t great but it was a whole lot better than Branagh’s attempt at horror.


A Haunting In Venice

Director: Kenneth Branagh
Cast: Kenneth Branagh, Kyle Allen, Camille Cottin, Jamie Dornan, Tina Fey, Jude Hill, Ali Khan, Emma Laird, Kelly Reilly, Riccardo Scamarcio,  Michelle Yeoh

UK/US Release: Cinemas 15th September 2023