A Haunting in Venice (2023)
I ummed and ahhed about this year’s #31DaysofHorror because life is particularly hectic this year, but as frivolous as it might seem, the project is one of the few that is just for me, so I’m going in again. I started with a classic whodunnit, an adaptation of Agatha Christie’s 1969 novel Hallowe’en_Party, which Branagh has shot through a horror genre lens. It’s set in 1947, so the characters are still traumatised from the Second World War. Hercule Poirot has retired to Vienna. It’s playfully shot, with fish eye lenses, hand-held cameras, spooky children and Viennese masks all building a distinctive mood.
This was my third visit to Venice in three months: Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning in July, Saving Venice in August (a BBC documentary about saving Venice from the damage of rising tides), and now this. Venice’s buildings and bridges and alleyways scream history, and the labyrinthine walkways and squares, overlooked by windows, balconies and rooftops, suggest someone always watching. The water, dirty water from the sewers, regularly floods the streets. Venice is old, filthy and rich.
A Haunting in Venice opens with Poirot being harassed in a quiet, opulent city, then pivots to a single palazzo, an old orphanage, on a stormy night, sealed off from the world. It’s fun, and a mystery, so I’ll say no more.