For those who were too busy trick-or-treating this Halloween, you might have missed Hulu’s latest foray into adapting Agatha Christie’s work into a murder mystery film. A Haunting In Venice has the perfect amount of mood combined with dark and light to bring out a murder mystery that is just right.
In post-World War II Venice, Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot, a now celebrated and retired investigator, is living out the last of his years in exile. At least, that is until he is contacted by a writer friend and invited to attend a séance at a decaying, haunted palazzo in Venice where he is living out his retirement.
What starts out as just a terrifying story of ghosts and contacting the dead quickly goes south when one of the other guests at the event is murdered. Poirot now has to come out of retirement to solve the crime and figure out if it is a person, or a spectre, that is responsible.
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Along with Kenneth Branagh, who is both the director and the standing in the main character, Hercule Poirot, he is joined by Amir El-Masry as Alessandro Longo, Camille Cottin as Olga Seminoff, Dylan Corbett-Bader as Baker, Emma Laird as Desdemona Holland, Fernando Piloni as Vincenzo Di Stefano, Jamie Dornan as Dr Leslie Ferrier, Jude Hill as Leopold Ferrier, Kelly Reilly as Rowena Drake, Michelle Yeoh as Joyce Reynolds, Riccardo Scamarcio as Vitale Portfoglio, Rowan Robinson as Alicia Drake, and Tina Fey as Ariadne Oliver, the writer friend who has invited Poirot to investigate the mystery.
Branagh and writer Michael Green have once again gone to work bringing the mystery of Agatha Christie’s books to life, this time adapting the story from Hallowe’en Party. However, quite a bit of the book has been changed to not only make it suit the big screen better but also to make it suit its Halloween release date perfectly.
To say that it worked in the movie’s favour would be an understatement, and this might be one of the few times when viewers are happy with the changes made to a cult classic novel. The movie did pretty well, especially when looking at the mostly positive reaction to the movie on rating sites like Rotten Tomatoes.
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As far as critics are concerned, A Haunting In Venice received a 75% Tomatometer and a similarly satisfied 77% Audience Score, with the consensus appreciating that Branagh’s Poirot has taken a bit of a darker turn and that it’s a decent Halloween mystery that is perfect for viewers who aren’t the biggest fan of horror. Polygon called A Haunting In Venice “The year’s best and spookiest murder mystery.”
It seems that every time Branagh goes to work adapting one of Christie’s novels, his performance as Hercule Poirot gets better, and so does the quality and the reception of the adaptation, so it will be exciting to see what Branagh does with the franchise in the future and where he will go from here. While there is always the chance that he might fall from his stardom, the hope is that he will continue to soar and succeed in bringing more of these beautiful stories to life.
As he did with A Haunting In Venice, it’s a hope that Branagh will continue to cast excellent talents in any follow-up movies to further the franchise. Casting Camille Cottin as a suspicious housekeeper, and even though Michelle Yeoh’s fantastic spiritualist was only part of the movie for a short while, fans have expressed their hopes that actresses like Tina Fey will be missed in the future, citing her as one of the few things wrong with the film. Thankfully, more was needed to detract from the rest of the film.
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A Haunting In Venice was first released in theatres on the 15th of September, 2023, for a wide cinema release. The movie was then released on the 31st of October on Hulu, making it the perfect watch for this Halloween, especially if you are a lover of murder mysteries but don’t want too much of the horror aspect of a Halloween movie, as this one is just the right level of scary. The tantalising movie is still available for watching on the streaming platform.