(Photo Credit: 2023 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.)

(Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox Studios)

A horror/whodunit.

That is what “A Haunting in Venice” is, which is good because a hybrid movie will likely be less predictable than the typical Hollywood movie that the industry likes to put out.

In the process, “A Haunting in Venice” becomes a classic whodunit to revival some of the best like those from the “Knives Out” franchise.

“A Haunting in Venice” plays on the fact that people cannot accept the obvious.

When something bad happens, people cannot just accept that fact that something bad occurred and consequences and repercussions usually follow.

On the contrary, people love to believe in otherworldly things to explain the obvious.

For example, when a person dies unexpectedly it cannot just be a suicide or murder.

It must be the result of a curse or the occult.

That belief in curses is what leads to the people’s fascination with Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh).

Poirot, whose exploits in other classic whodunits like “Death on the Nile” and “Murder on the Orient Express,” does not believe in those otherworldly explanations of death.

But that does not stop people from begging for his assistance in solving the deaths of their loved-ones.

In “A Haunting in Venice,” Poirot is happily retired, enjoying the quiet life and eating delicious pastries.

But when a friend, author Ariadne Oliver (Tina Fey) from the past, even though he does not consider anyone a friend, pops in with a request that he attend a séance surrounding the death of a young person, Poirot reluctantly agrees to attend although he does not believe in the occult.

Poirot and Ariadne arrive at a mansion for the planned séance on Halloween night.

At the home, Halloween is a joyous occasion because all the local kids gather for fun, fellowship and frightening stories.

The home is owned by Rowena Drake (Kelly Reilly), mother of the deceased, Alicia Drake.

In “A Haunting in Venice,” Alicia’s death has been ruled a suicide by law enforcement.

However, Rowena believes there is more at play when it comes to the death of her daughter.

Rowena has even hired a medium named Mrs. Reynolds who believes she can contact Alicia in the afterlife to get some answers as to what led to her untimely death.

The grief-stricken Rowena, and Ariadne believe that the real culprits are the ghosts from the past, children from the beyond intent on causing harm to the living for what happened to them in that house years ago.

But what about Alicia’s boyfriend?

Could he be the real killer?

Lovers, or scorned lovers, often have motive to kill their significant other.

What about the doctor, Dr. Leslie Ferrier (Jamie Dornan) who appears to be having some sort of mental breakdown?

Is it just guilt eating at him because he is the real killer of Alicia Drake (Rowan Robinson)?

His young son Leopold Ferrier (Jude Hill) seems too calm and intelligent for his age, especially considering the situation.

Does he really know if his dad is truly guilty and is just covering up for him?

What about the police officer who discovers Alicia’s dead body?

Sure, cops protect and serve.

But do they also kill with impunity?

Hopefully, the séance, conducted by the medium Mrs. Reynolds (Michelle Yeoh), will expose the real culprit, whether it is human or spirit(s).

But what happens when something tragic happens to the medium while conducting the séance?

Thankfully, or unthankfully, Poirot is on the case, although initially reluctantly.

And maybe he can finally discern whether evil spirits are the cause of some mysterious deaths or are some human beings just that evil that they would kill an innocent young woman?

Being a hybrid movie, truthfully, “A Haunting in Venice” could come out any weekend or any month.

But Hollywood sometimes has a habit of releasing movies aimed at certain “holidays” long before that particular date turns up on the calendar.

“A Haunting in Venice” might do well at the box office.

However, releasing it closer to Halloween when many people are craving ghosts, goblins, ghouls and evil might benefit it more from a financial standpoint.

Nevertheless, “A Haunting in Venice” contains enough intrigue to keep moviegoers interested despite the ill-timed release date.

Additionally, “A Haunting in Venice” boasts the talented Fey and the Academy-Award winning Yeoh.

Fey seems to pick the perfect roles for her quirky personality.

Yeoh has also found a sweet spot in selecting eccentric roles like in her award-winning performance in “Everything Everywhere All At Once.”

Although “A Haunting in Venice” cannot equal “Everything Everywhere All At Once” in weirdness, it has enough peculiarities to stand out.

Additionally, the horror/whodunit movie is not predictable in who the culprit in Alicia’s death is.

Furthermore, the reason behind the death makes the death that much more of a gut punch.

While “A Haunting in Venice” is not the best movie currently at the theater, it is good enough to satisfy many casual moviegoers.

If the movie does well enough at the box office to last about a month or month and a half, it should also see a spike in popularity closer to Oct. 31.

And Yeoh has a sweet spot in picking eccentric characters to portray

More importantly, the movie-watching experience has become hybrid as well.

No longer do fans have to see a movie in the theater.

But they can also watch it via streaming or the old-fashioned way of watching it on television.

Whenever, or however, they watch it, viewers will find a classic whodunit with a few splashes of horror included.







Todd A. Smith
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