The mystery behind ‘A Haunting in Venice’ is bland and predictable

“A Haunting in Venice,” directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh, was more of “a disappointment in the theater.”

The film follows French detective Hercule Poirot, a recurring star character of “Murder on the Orient Express” and “Death on the Nile.” First developed by Agatha Christie in the world of literature, Poirot was then developed into a predictable, static character who is honestly not that entertaining.

“A Haunting in Venice” has fans who expected horror, disappointed. Photo courtesy of @20thcenturystudios, Instagram

I almost want to compare him to Indiana Jones, another static character with a few movies, but at least Jones had a redemption arc in his fourth and final film of the franchise. We don’t know if Branagh intends to continue this character’s story, but this does not even seem worth continuing. Even if Poirot were to become more developed, these movies lack adventure and are not all that amusing.

The movie itself was a cut and dry murder mystery attempting to play off the conventions and tropes of a horror film and ultimately failing. It seems as if Branagh put on this French accent and did not want to let it go and that’s what this movie is. There was one jump scare within the entire hour and 43 minutes and it was completely foreseeable. 

I will say that one of the more notable aspects of this film was its cinematography, credited to Haris Zambarloukos, who previously worked on movies such as “Thor,” “Mamma Mia!” and “Belfast.”

The shot compositions were fun and it definitely served the plot and the theme well. The spinning of the camera to indicate confusion and chaos were fantastic. The film did a great job creating an eerie atmosphere, but there was barely a story to go along with it. There were certain aspects of the plot that had so much potential but were pushed aside to make more screen time for bigger names. 

There was a massive tonal shift between this film and Branagh’s others, but he made the same move of casting big names who seem to be there just for face value.

Michelle Yeoh and Jamie Dornan were among those names, whose performances were just average. This was more than likely not their fault though, as the characters are just bland and boring. Tina Fey had a bigger role in this film and, personally, she is not one of my favorites.

Less famous names like Camille Cottin and Emma Laird had more prominent roles and significant performances. I felt that child actor Jude Hill did a better job, compared to Kelly Reilly and Kyle Allen, whose characters would have been important to the plot if there really was one. 

I also found the title to be an issue. When I heard, “A Haunting in Venice,” I was expecting to be scared, not to snooze through a whodunit with a predictable ending. If the film were to be named “Hallowe’en Party” like the actual novel it was based on, I don’t think I would have had such expectations.

I would not watch this movie again and would not recommend spending your money on it. If this movie were to be described with one word, it would be mediocre. 


2/5 stars

 Featured photo courtesy of @Jamiedornan, Instagram