Front Row Reviewers

Sep 24, 2023 | Film Reviews, Reviews

A Haunting in Venice Brings an Eerie Film to the Screen

Front Row Reviewers

Front Row Reviewers

By Jennifer Mustoe and Craig Mustoe

A Haunting in Venice teaser

My husband and I recently watched A Haunting in Venice and straight up, we were blown away. The thing is, A Haunting in Venice is not a Halloween movie, filled with bloody or creepy storylines. It is Agatha Christie at her most unusual and mysterious. A Haunting in Venice is a gorgeous, engrossing film that can (and should) be enjoyed any time of the year. And maybe (definitely?) more than one viewing.

Based on Christie’s short story Hallowe’en Party, the plot is more mystery than murder, more cerebral than sensational, and far more beautiful than any other Christie movie I’ve ever seen. A Haunting in Venice tells the story of the quirky, confident, and brilliant Hercule Poirot, played by Kenneth Branagh, who also directs the film. This film is part of the Agatha Christie franchise that Branagh has brought to the forefront to audiences who may or may not be familiar with and/or haven’t liked her work. The first movie in this franchise is Murder on the Orient Express, a star-studded whodunnit that, while not a romp, is good fun and may be familiar to viewing audiences, as there was another Orient Express from 1974, also filled with big name stars and again, was a movie to be enjoyed, even if you knew the Big Reveal at the end. The second Branagh Poirot offering, Death on the Nile, gives us another film filled with stars we love, and is fun and exciting, and it too had a movie produced in 1978–again, with well-loved headliners that promised success.

Much has been written about the Branagh trilogy, each films’ individual successes and Why We Love Them. But A Haunting in Venice steps away from the other two movies’ standard playbook. Which is why I call it a film and not a movie. And why this review is about what makes Haunting different. Yes, it’s based on a fairly little known short story. I’ve listened to many Christie audiobooks and watched several popular iterations of Poirot and Miss Marple novels and Tommy and Tuppence stories and more, loving them all. There are many TV shows recently that have also delighted audiences. Christie has a way of giving us just enough mystery and murder to keep us wondering what will happen and who is the eventual baddy is, but also a real understanding of people, our relationships, our delights and woes.

What made A Haunting in Venice stand out for me wasn’t necessarily the typical Christie whodunnit storyline. I frankly didn’t care who the murderer was. What made the film stand out for me was first, the acting is superb by the multi-talented and amazing troupe of actors and actresses. The cast includes:  Kyle AllenCamille CottinJamie DornanTina FeyJude Hill, Ali KhanEmma LairdKelly ReillyRiccardo Scamarcio, Michelle Yeoh, and of course Branagh himself. Each of these professionals are perfect in their casting and in their performances.

But what transfixed me and kept me on the edge of my seat (a cliché if there ever was one) is not the acting nor even the story. But my friends, go into this film with what I saw. Pay attention to this review, as what follows is what made me realize that Haunting is unique and rather startling. What I saw was more than just the plot, and in fact, sparkled in my mind, kept me wanting more as the film progressed. It is what I saw beyond the plot and performances.

It is:
~The beautiful locations in Venice. And yes, it was filmed in Venice.
~The cinematography genius of Haris Zambarloukos.
~Superb, intricate Art Direction by Susanna Codognato, Peter Russell, and Chris Stephenson.
~Splendid Set Decoration by Celia Bobak, and
~Outstanding Sound Design by Tomas Blazukas.

The “background”, the palette that we may often take for granted in other (most?) movies we attend is what takes this film in the franchise to a much higher level. I felt spiritually fed as I sat in the theater witnessing and experiencing this panorama that is a mixture of beauty and spooky that makes me say to you: Go See This Film.

I am giving you no storyline at all in this review on purpose. Read other reviews, which are plentiful, to get the information you need to understand who does what to whom and when. But as you sit in the theater eating your popcorn and sipping your soda, absorb the beauty of A Haunting in Venice. And for the record, this film must be seen on the big screen in the darkness of a movie theater. Seriously. Take my advice. It’s worth it.

A Haunting in Venice official trailer

Front Row Reviewers

Front Row Reviewers


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