A Haunting in Venice review – Branagh’s Agatha Christie whodunnit given horror makeover – The Guardian

Screenwriter Michael Inexperienced and director-star Kenneth Branagh have coaxed one other gold-effect egg from that plump goose which is the Agatha Christie property. Legendary moustachioed Belgian sleuth Hercule Poirot, performed by Branagh, is again for an additional ensemble outing with many biggish-to-big names phoning it in for the paycheck. This film seems to be attempting for a more durable, nastier, horror-ish really feel, maybe to scoop up a few of the youthful scary-movie fanbase alongside the Werther’s Unique demographic that usually seems for this type of factor.

The timeline follows on from the earlier Poirot case, Dying on the Nile; the 12 months is 1947, and Hercule Poirot is in genial retirement in Venice, the place he employs ex-cop Vitale (Riccardo Scamarcio) as his private bodyguard. However his good friend, the bestselling American thriller writer Ariadne Oliver (Tina Fey) is on the town. She impishly persuades him to come back together with her to a Halloween séance being performed at a close-by palazzo by the well-known psychic Mrs Reynolds (Michelle Yeoh) – with a view, after all, to debunking her. Horrible occasions ensue. May sinister ghostly forces be at work? Properly, Poirot takes a refreshingly atheist view and, just like the Scooby-Doo gang, believes that supernatural phenomena and non-rational explanations are a diversionary tactic promoted by these with one thing to cover.

A Haunting in Venice is freely tailored from a late Agatha Christie novel, Hallowe’en Get together, from 1969, and does no less than look higher than its predecessor, which used tacky digital results and back-projections to counsel Egypt and the Nile. Now Branagh goes for one thing creepier and extra claustrophobic: the sepulchral inside of the traditional haunted palazzo, lower off from the police launches by stormy climate, very similar to the snowed-in nation homes of previous – though Venice connoisseurs could surprise if there may not be a approach, in circumstances like these, of approaching a palazzo from one other route, by land.

With every new Branagh/Poirot film I’ve sat down for some guilty-pleasure enjoyable, and he all the time brings to the half a fundamental degree of sprightly power. However every time I’ve been upset by the trudging inertia that units in – and right here by the false-ending, fake-reveal moments which the film simply breezes by way of, and in addition by the prison waste of the supporting solid. Particularly the waste of comedy genius Fey, who does a kind of tough-talking broad routine however with no actual dialogue materials to work with. There may be, nevertheless, amusing when Poirot solemnly remarks: “You wake the bear from his sleep, you can’t cry when he tangos.” And Fey acidly replies: “That’s not a saying in any language.”

As in Dying on the Nile, A Haunting in Venice takes the story at a fairly even tempo, and its jump-scare moments, generally accompanied by a close-up of Poirot wanting dramatically to his left, don’t have the funding that an true horror movie would have given them, and so really feel similar to a hiccup. Properly, there’s all the time hope for future Christie motion pictures with much less tricksiness: how about political satire The Augean Stables, about Poirot and a dodgy prime minister?

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