A Haunting in Venice is the third Kenneth Branagh adaptation of Agatha Christie’s detective stories featuring Hercule Poirot. This one is based upon the story The Hallowe’en Party, in which Poirot (Branagh) attends a séance, intending to debunk the medium (Michelle Yeoh). Of course, when a character winds up dead under mysterious circumstances, Poirot must discover the killer.

Like Murder on the Orient Express (2017) and Death on the Nile (2022), Branagh has gathered an all-star cast of would-be suspects/murder victims. Tina Fey, Jamie Dornan, Jude Hill (both from Branagh’s last film, Belfast), Kelly Reilly, and Camille Cottin all give fine performances with particular mention going to Fey, who does her best impression of Katharine Hepburn in Bringing Up Baby (1938).

Aside from the strong performances, which make rather ludicrous situations halfway believable, the cinematography by Haris Zambarloukos makes the film come alive, and the production design by John Paul Kelly is lush and delightful in the exteriors and dark and haunting in the interiors. All the strengths of Branagh’s previous Poirot films are on display here; even if Death on the Nile had weak links in the cast, it still looked beautiful, just like A Haunting in Venice.

Branagh is also expanding his craft. Not sense Dead Again (1991) has Branagh injected horror elements into his dramas with the skill on display here. The spooky sequences create a foreboding atmosphere that enhances the mystery.

For all that’s the case, A Haunting in Venice is an Agatha Christie B-side. It is not her strongest mystery, elements of the plot and filmmaking stretch believability, and the character arcs are barely there. But it’s fun and deliciously ambient and exciting and melodramatic, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.