You just cannot possibly get all the answers right
Sherlock Holmes ran so that the likes of Knives Out’s Benoit Blanc and Murder On The Orient Express’ Hercule Poirot could sprint. (Okay,, it's not apples-to-apples, but you get the point.) We all love to think we can solve the mysteries that unfold—and sometimes we’re right, but most times we’re dead wrong.
Such is the case in the next chapter of Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) in A Haunting In Venice.
In The Haunting In Venice, Hercule Poirot is enjoying his retirement on a private rooftop in Venice. He’s ignoring all cases, eating his pastries and living the uncomplicated life. But when Ariadne Oliver (Tina Fey) shows up with an invitation to a Halloween séance and a challenge to debunk a medium named Mrs. Reynolds (Michelle Yeoh), Poirot is in.
Throw in the fact that the séance is happening on Halloween in a “haunted” palazzo, wherein a young woman—haunted by ghosts of children—jumped to her death a year earlier. Oh, and that woman who died just so happens to be the palazzo owner’s daughter. Yup, she couldn’t leave because she has no money and no one wants to buy a haunted apartment.
Things obviously start going downhill from there. After the séance, people start dying. No one can leave because of the raging storm, and the police can’t get in for the same reason. So, who’s the killer? And are there really spirits in play? Because even the skeptical Poirot is starting to hear and see things.
A lot of negative things can be said about this formula: it’s done, the character’s done, how many times do we have to pull someone out of retirement? But here’s the thing: A Haunting In Venice is so much fun. From the costumes to the drama that Venice naturally brings, it’s a great less-than-two-hour way to spend an afternoon. And the sequence where the film explains the haunting past of the palazzo—told through old puppets, shadows and lights—was incredibly well done.
The characters are colorful, the acting is believable, and the mysteries unfold in a pace that doesn’t leave you dumbfounded nor asking for more. By the end of the séance, Poirot already has a logical explanation for the medium’s antics—but what about the rest of it?
Because there are so many questions, it’s likely that no one in the audience will have solved it all before Poirot lays it all out on the table. Sure, even I had my guesses (and some were right), but there were just some other points that took me by complete surprise.
And don’t worry, you’ll have all the answers by the time the credits roll.
A Haunting In Venice is definitely not the most frightening film out there for now, and maybe it isn’t even the most intelligent, but it does present itself as a great starter to the Halloween season.
“A Haunting In Venice” premieres in Philippine cinemas on September 13.
Art Matthew Ian Fetalver