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A Jumpscare in Venice

"A Haunting in Venice" Review


Photo by Marek Piwnicki on Unsplash


“A Haunting in Venice” is the latest film in director Kenneth Branagh's trilogy and is an adaptation of Agatha Christie’s 1969 detective story novel, “Hallowe'en Party,” which shifts the action from England to Italy. It's a supernatural thriller infusing the expected murder mystery with a gothic horror atmosphere. However, this movie is falsely advertised. It is not a horror movie and is far from it. The movie begins with a jump scare that should tell viewers all they need to know about what they are going to watch. Although some elements of this movie work, it completely misses its mark and falls flat halfway through.


Although this movie falls short in many ways, the cinematography is not one of them. What remains constant are the exquisite visuals, exemplified by the remarkable cinematography of Haris Zambarloukos, which define this film as a traditional Hollywood spectacle. It features tilted perspectives capturing unexpected angles within the house which makes the house seem like a maze, interchanging with picturesque scenes of rainy nights in Venice. However, the primary focus is on close-up shots of the film's stars, with prolonged gazes at Branagh, whose subdued seriousness offers both funny and serious moments.


The mystery aspect of the film comes across as rather dim and its attempts at communicating horror feels somewhat useless. One notable issue is its excessive dialogue. Branagh, who had an early encounter with gothic terror in his career with "Frankenstein," seems more at home with theatrical and dramatic performances rather than the rapid pacing required for cinematic scare sequences. Just as you're about to return to the central mystery, a refreshing twist emerges, largely thanks to Tina Fey's presence. Nonetheless, even with the good actors, this movie has much unneeded dialogue. With scenes that go on for too long and pointless exposition dumps, this is another reason as to why “Haunting in Venice” does not meet higher standards. 


The narrative itself lacked captivating elements, and when the mystery was eventually solved, it lacked a compelling climax. The plot twists were merely passable and couldn't save the movie from the deficiencies in the core storyline. It's challenging for the audience to develop a strong connection to the movie or its characters due to the acting, so it was hard to have much investment in the unfolding events. 


Despite being marketed as a horror film, “Haunting in Venice” ultimately turned out to be a mediocre detective story with a handful of sudden scares, failing to excel in either genre in terms of holding one's interest. Though the film may have some strong points, overall it fell flat and just missed what it was advertised as.


<Star Rating>

Cinematography: ★★★★☆

Acting: ★★★☆☆

Story: ★★☆☆☆

Overall: ★★★☆☆

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