Life & Culture

A Haunting in Venice review: Another star studded whodunnit

This latest instalment to the franchise is a superior addition to these modern adaptations of Agatha Christie's most loved work


A Haunting In Venice
Cert: 12A | ★★★★✩

Kenneth Branagh is back with another star studded whodunnit as he reprises his role both behind and in front of the camera in the latest Hercule Poirot adventure. In it, acclaimed Jewish screenwriter Michael Green - known for his work on Blade Runner 2049, Smallville and American Gods - adapts one of Agatha Christie’s lesser-known mystery novels, the Hallowe'en Party.

The film serves as a sequel to Death On The Nile, which was released last year after a lengthy delay due to the Covid crisis.

We once again meet the fabulously moustachioed Belgian detective (Branagh) in post WW2 Venice where he has chosen to spend the rest of his days away from scrutiny and unwanted attention. Poirot’s peace is suddenly disturbed when he is coaxed out of retirement by former friend and best-selling mystery author Ariadne Oliver (Tina Fey), with the promise of a juicy supernatural case.

Poirot is suddenly thrown into a world of ghostly apparitions and "things that go bump in the night" as he attempts to solve the mystery of a recently deceased young woman who is said to have taken to haunting her mother's home.

Faced with the dastardly machinations of a supposedly powerful medium named Joyce Reynolds (played rather beautifully by Oscar winner Michelle Yeoh) and her accolites, the famous detective must prove to himself and others that there are no such things as ghosts or monsters, but what if he can’t? 

After last year’s misfire with Death on The Nile - which was an altogether disappointing and stale affair - it seems that Branagh and Green have found their mojo again. In this entertaining and breezy adventure, the pair have concocted a charming and beautifully acted mystery thriller that owes more than just a little to the classic gothic horror genre.

Branagh, who is once again excellent as Poirot, is also reunited with his Belfast cast members Jamie Dornan and Jude Hill who respectively play a troubled army doctor suffering from PTSD and his very astute young son. Meanwhile, Yellowstone star Kelly Reilly delivers a hilariously over the top turn as the owner of a haunted grand Palazzo, mourning the untimely death of her teenage daughter.

While it’s true that this whole franchise has often struggled to amount to much, it does feel as though this latest instalment is a superior addition to these modern adaptations of Christie's most loved work. 

A Haunting In Venice is also undeniably elevated by Fey’s impressivelly precise performance as Ariadne Oliver. Fey and Branagh make for a match made in heaven, thanks to her perfectly-judged His Girl Friday-esque snappy, sharp and hugely entertaining quips throughout. There is certainly no danger of this being as memorable as any of Christie's mysteries from past decades, but there is just enough intrigue here to keep fans of the series entertained until the next one.

A Haunting in Venice is out now.

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