A Haunting in Venice
103 minutes(4 out of 5)
Reviewed by: Alessia Belsito-Riera
If you’re looking for the perfect spooky-season flick, you’ve found it. A Haunting in Venice ventures into all kinds of dark, dank corners, scary séances, and haunted happenings.
Detective Poirot has retired. He lives in Venice, unbothered – his bodyguard, ex-police officer Vitale Portfoglio (Riccardo Scamarcio), sees to that. When his friend, mystery writer Ariadne Oliver (Tina Fey) turns up on his doorstep, he reluctantly attends a séance with her in the dilapidated – and supposedly cursed – palazzo of Rowena Drake (Kelly Reilly). Rowena has employed a medium (Michelle Yeoh) to commune with her dead daughter. What ensues is a twisted, tragic, and titillating tale of terror and tears.
Kenneth Branagh reprises his role as director, producer, and the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot for a third time in A Haunting in Venice. Based on British author Agatha Christie’s Hallowe’en Party, the film follows Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile, though personally, I think this one is the best so far.
Engaging Hollywood whodunnit horrors are few and far between these days. When done right, they are the perfect balance of fun and profundity. A Haunting in Venice is particularly introspective, with writer Michael Green’s screenplay both clever and affecting. Though there are a few jump scares, what is truly haunting is the trauma the characters grapple with, each one wrestling different demons.
Though I enjoyed A Haunting in Venice immensely, I do have a bit of a bone to pick – and not with the book, which was set in England. Why is it that when movies are set in a ‘foreign’ country, very little energy is dedicated to accuracy? For example, Italy doesn’t celebrate Halloween and Venice is famous for Carnevale, which is a similar vibe. Also, only one character is Italian, a supporting role, despite the story taking place in Italy. Italian names, words, and pronunciations are, more often than not, incorrect. This is a movie with a budget of $60 million, made by some of the brightest minds in the industry. In future, I hope to see major productions doing better research, but for that to happen we’ll all have to hold them more accountable.