Tina Fey brings a new spark to the Poirot franchise

By Lindsey Bahr | Associated Press

Kenneth Branagh indulges in the kind of macabre theatricality that only a ruined Venetian palace on a stormy Halloween night can deliver in “A Haunting in Venice.” »

Moviegoers have probably long since made up their minds one way or another about Branagh’s majestic and flawed Hercule Poirot franchise, but if there’s any curiosity left for this third installment, it’s worth it. It’s scary, funny, and stars Tina Fey, sleek and stylish in her post-war costumes, as a fast-paced bestselling crime writer who says things like “I’m the smartest person I know” with a mid-Atlantic accent.

Set in 1947 on a particularly foggy night in the canal city, “A Haunting in Venice” is stunning to look at, with costumes by Sammy Sheldon, set design by John Paul Kelly and cinematography by Haris Zambarloukos. And it’s peppered with brooding but palatable scares that recall classics like “The Innocents” and “The Others,” bolstered by Hildur Guðnadóttir’s score. In other words, it might not excite a “Saw” enthusiast, but for the more easily spooked and nervous, it hits just the right notes.

Agatha Christie takes a bit of a back seat here, while Branagh and screenwriter Michael Green only draw inspiration from her 1969 book “The Hallowe’en Party” for their haunting, initially moving it to Venice. This is where Poirot chose to live out his self-imposed retirement (an enviable exile if ever there was one). However, his whereabouts are no secret: desperate people line up outside his quaint apartment in the hope that he will try to solve their case. But for now, a handsome Italian bodyguard (Riccardo Scamarcio) is there to make sure they don’t come close enough to ask.

Ariadne Oliver de Fey, however, walks through the doors with a different kind of offer: she wants Poirot to accompany her to a session. This outlet, she says, appears to be the real deal and only he will be able to figure out if it’s just a trap. Soon, reluctantly, he finds himself at a Halloween party for the town’s orphans, hosted by a famous opera singer, Rowena, (Kelly Reilly) along with a deceased famous girl they hope to contact later in the evening when the children leave.


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