The Moya View

A Haunting in Venice: Old School Haunts, Taunts and Hints With a Peppery Twist

20th Century Studios

Movie info via Rotten Tomatoes:

A Haunting in Venice” is set in eerie, post-World War II Venice on All Hallows’ Eve and is a terrifying mystery featuring the return of the celebrated sleuth, Hercule Poirot. Now retired and living in self-imposed exile in the world’s most glamorous city, Poirot reluctantly attends a séance at a decaying, haunted palazzo. When one of the guests is murdered, the detective is thrust into a sinister world of shadows and secrets.


20th Century Studios

No matter what murder Agatha Christie’s most famous detective, Hercule Poirot solves, he always seems calm and unfazed. The challenge for Kenneth Branagh as both director and actor, in his third Poirot go around, A Haunting in Venice, is to shake Poirot up- not only scare him, but make him doubt his faith in method and logic, his agnosticism. Like in life, Poirot makes a compromise, maybe even a conversion to the possibility of real mysteries that can never be explained.

20th Century Studios

Fittingly Haunting is a blend of horror and mystery- and when you throw in the Venice setting, a bonus travelogue. There is no gore, just atmosphere, suspense, theater of the mind scares and some clever misdirection. Haunting is pretty old style horror done with a certain flair for camera filigrees that help lift it beyond its one palazzo setting. Branagh wisely concentrates on the crumbling beautiful decay knowing that the eye will never catch the cheapness and artifice hiding beneath.

20th Century Studios

Ostensibly the plot does some inventive twists on exposing the medium as fraud idea. When the medium, played with wonderful theatrical ham by Michelle Yeoh, joins the spirit world early on, the death defying twists pile up higher than the body count. Branagh has fun in the ways he has Poirot doubting his method and sanity.

20th Century Studios

Tina Fey as an Agatha Christie doppelgänger, provides some comedic support, Devil’s advocate, and some good old American snark, smarts and sassiness. Later, she even becomes a McGuffin character, a misdirection of a misdirection. Fey even had me mistakenly believe that the creepy little British kid with the glasses might be the killer. I’m usually 90 percent right on my murder guesses. It will be too sacrilegious to make the Agatha Christie substitute the murderer of her own novel and/or movie appearance.

20th Century Studios

The bits of horror basically are a diversion when Haunting gets too talky with exposition and Poirot self significance and indulgence. Whenever an overly long bit of exposition or confession occurs— murder comes a calling. The reveal at the end is too long and filled with flashbacks, and the resulting after interlude is a few minutes more than necessary. Branagh will never kill his own performance nor cut it short. As a theater actors he knows the value of ham.

20th Century Studios

A Haunting in Venice gets an efficient and competent grade of 3.5 out of 5 or a B+.

20th Century Studios


Directed by

Kenneth Branagh

Screenplay by

Michael Green

Based on

Hallowe’en Party

by Agatha Christie

Produced by



Haris Zambarloukos

Edited by

Lucy Donaldson

Music by

Hildur Guðnadóttir



Distributed by

20th Century Studios

Release dates

Running time

103 minutes


United States



20th Century Studios


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