As spooky season descends upon us, we start looking for scary movies to watch whether they be old or new. One of the latest releases in theaters is A Haunting in Venice, which is an Agatha Christie story come to life. Like many of her books, this movie is a mystery in which a detective solves a crime before our eyes. However, there were many parts of this film that diverged from her typical style.
Check out my honest A Haunting in Venice review before you see this blockbuster in theaters. No spoilers are ahead.
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A Haunting in Venice Review: Breaking Down Plot, Setting, and Characters
A Haunting in Venice was not only a mystery in which we waited to see who committed the crime, but it was actually what I would consider a scary movie. Agatha Christie’s plot lines are usually murder mysteries that keep you locked in until the very end. However, in my experience, with both her books and movies, these stories do not usually make me jump out of my seat.
This film was different. While the possibility of spirits speaking to us from the dead didn’t sway me, the jump scares certainly did. I jumped out of my seat numerous times due to creepy and loud noises, random falling objects, and other shocking surprises.
My A Haunting in Venice review will make one thing clear and that is this film is truly scary. I assumed it would not be based on its PG-13 rating. However, don’t be surprised like me because this is so much more than a murder mystery. It’s definitely not suitable for children or any sensitive audience members.
Setting the Scene
This mystery film takes place in Venice, Italy post-World War II and begins with detective Hercule Poirot happily living out his retirement alone. He is taking a break from solving cases, which he always solves despite complicated details. His fame and success is known world wide, but he tries to protect his newfound peace in the romantic, calm city of Venice. That is, until an old friend and bestselling author invites him to a seance on Halloween night that takes place in a “cursed” palazzo.
What I found most interesting about A Haunting in Venice is the way Venice is depicted as the setting. Venice is known for the Carnival festival and its elaborate, historical costumes, so it does make sense that it would be the perfect setting for a Halloween film.
I studied abroad in Venice, so I have experienced the city’s atmosphere firsthand. While I was not alive to understand Venice in a post-World War II world, the city has always been alive with history and full of pride. As a result, I found the city’s depiction as “haunted” and “cursed” to be unrealistic.
In the movie, the city of Venice went from being Poirot’s bright, peaceful garden to a dark, ghostly, and violent place. Nearly every scene was dark, rainy, and bewitched. The canal water became a weapon and the Venetians were unable to escape or overcome it. Ultimately, this creates a very misleading picture of Venice, which I found to be clearly dramatized.
Without giving anything away, I found the first crime unbelievable due to the setting. I wouldn’t be doing this A Haunting in Venice review justice if I didn’t point out this glaring part of the film.
There were several new characters in this story including Mrs. Reynolds played by Michelle Yeoh, Dr. Leslie Ferrier played by Jamie Dornan, and Ariadne Oliver played by Tina Fey. As you can see, there is no doubt that this cast was stacked in terms of talent.
These new characters were all intriguing, although some had more depth than others. In fact, the seance leader, Mrs. Reynolds, was one of the roles that I found to be the least believable. She had an air of mystery, but this was tainted by her cockiness and fabricated story.
The character who stole the show for me was Dr. Leslie Ferrier. It was refreshing to see Jamie Dornan in a sensitive role after his well known part as the dominant Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey. He is not only a struggling veteran, but a doctor who has experienced a lot of stress and loss. Additionally, Leopold Ferrier, Dr. Leslie Ferrier’s son, was a delight to watch on screen. At the young age of 13, this actor had a strong presence on screen that showcased the maturity and humor of his character.
As for our main returning character, Hercule Poirot, he appeared just as sharp, quick-witted, and perceptive as ever. He did not miss a beat while solving this crime, although it was interesting to watch his fear unravel. Mental health was definitely an underlying theme of this movie and even Poirot, who always has it together, was demonstrating vulnerability.
What Book Is A Haunting in Venice Based on?
A Haunting in Venice is based on the novel Hallowe’en Party by Agatha Christie. The book was originally released in 1969. While the movie adaptation is very different, there are a few key scenes that are brought to life including a traditional Halloween game: bobbing for apples.
Is A Haunting in Venice a Sequel?
A Haunting in Venice is its own story. However, it is a sequel in the line of Agatha Christie stories that feature the lead detective, Hercule Poirot. This fictional Belgian detective is a character that Christie used in 33 of her mystery novels.
In the world of cinema, Death on the Nile and Murder on the Orient Express were made before A Haunting in Venice, so we’ve seen actor Kenneth Branagh play Hercule Poirot twice before. As a result, it is a continuation of his character, talent, and experiences on screen.
How Does A Haunting in Venice Compare to Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile?
I’ve seen all three of these films and they are all very different. Murder on the Orient Express was the first film to be released with Kenneth Branagh as Herule Poirot in 2017. The second film was Death on the Nile, which came out in 2022. All three films showcase Agatha Christie’s signature mystery style in which you see pieces of events unfold and then watch detective Poirot solve the mystery by interrogating each character and spotting hidden clues.
In my experience, Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile felt far less scary than A Haunting in Venice. There wasn’t a time in either of those films where I was afraid. I was definitely intrigued and trying to figure out who is the murderer, but these films were true mysteries as opposed to horror. A Haunting in Venice more closely resembled horror based on the way it was filmed.
Additionally, I think the two previous films showed a deeper analysis of the characters and their relationships. This might have to do with the fact that in both Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile, the suspects are trapped and traveling together (on a train and boat respectively). A Haunting in Venice didn’t present as clear of a connection between the characters even though they were all coerced into a seance in Venice.
Is A Haunting in Venice Scary?
Yes. Without a doubt, this movie was much more frightening than I anticipated. The story mainly takes place in a palazzo that used to be a children’s orphanage. The Halloween party that takes place on screen seems unfit for children let alone the movie itself.
There are a few elements that make it scary including supernatural phenomenon, murder, and special effects that create jump scares. While you might not find all of these elements scary, you’ll be able to appreciate the suspense and creepy feel of the movie.
Ultimately, my A Haunting in Venice review gives it a stamp of approval because I found the film entertaining. The mystery played out well even though I think some of the plot points and scenery were dramatized. I recommend it because of the truth behind the whodunnit, which made me enjoy the mystery’s ending. It is not at all how I would depict Venice as a setting, but I think the heart of Agatha Christie’s story and the Halloween spirit can be seen clearly.
It is a great watch if you enjoy scary movies, especially as we head into spooky season. Definitely be prepared for loud noises and jump scares, but you’ll get to see some frightening possibilities unfold.