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Rotten Tomatoes Critics Say A Haunting In Venice Is A Frightfully Good Mystery

Here's what Rotten Tomatoes critics think about "A Haunting in Venice." 

Kenneth Branagh is back with another Hercule Poirot mystery. Over the last few years, the British actor and filmmaker has become obsessed with Agatha Christie's iconic and eccentric mystery novels featuring Poirot. He successfully introduced a brand new generation to Christie's magnum opus with a cinematic rendition of "Murder on the Orient Express." The mystery flick debuted in late 2017 to mostly positive reviews, with many praising Branagh's performance as the Belgian detective Poirot. Audiences were equally enthusiastic about the film, awarding the star-studded affair a B CinemaScore. While the adaptation was far from perfect, it proved to be a lucrative success at the box office, grossing over $350 million on a budget shy of $60 million. 

With such strong receipts, 20th Century Studios was naturally interested in having Branagh adapt another one of Christie's seminal novels. Following a number of delays thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, Branagh finally unleashed "Death on the Nile" upon cinemagoers in 2022. Starring Gal Gadot, as well as Branagh as Poirot, the adaptation received mixed-to-positive reviews. Unfortunately, it wasn't the same financial hit as its predecessor, grossing a worldwide total shy of $140 million. 

But 20th Century Studios still has faith in the franchise, allowing Branagh to take Poirot in a spooky direction. After months of anticipation, Rotten Tomatoes critics have finally seen the spooky "A Haunting in Venice" and they (mostly) have nothing but positive things to say. Mireia Mullor of Digital Spy makes it clear: "A Haunting in Venice" is a scary good time at the cinema. "Despite not being particularly innovative, the movie is incredibly tasteful while playing its storytelling cards cleverly," Mullor wrote. "There's no doubt Branagh has learned from previous mistakes, raising the level of the saga and delivering an instant Halloween classic." 

Some critics think A Haunting in Venice is the best Poirot film yet

Rotten Tomatoes critics are loving the direction Kenneth Branagh has taken the franchise with "A Haunting in Venice." While previous films leaned heavily into mystery and intrigue, "A Haunting in Venice" is definitely gunning for a horror audience, and it seems like Branagh's bold direction has paid off. "The slight shift in tone and genre, leaning into the supernatural elements of the storytelling, does wonders for Branagh's take on Poirot, elevating the movie beyond the solid, if somewhat bland entertainment of the first two films," shared Entertainment Weekly critic Maureen Lee Lenker in a positive review which labeled the film as the "best Poirot film yet." 

Critics, like Todd Gilchrist of Variety, were particularly pleased with the film's thrills, which were efficient. "Ultimately, 'A Haunting in Venice' is just spooky enough, whether you're typically interested in getting your pants scared off or prefer a slightly more polished level of intrigue and sophistication," the Rotten Tomatoes critic shared. Per the reviews, it seems like Branagh has managed to effectively blend horror and mystery together to create a Poirot concoction that's worth heading to the cinemas for. 

While Deadline's Valerie Complex was interested in the film's spooky tone, the critic couldn't help but praise Branagh for finally figuring out what makes Agatha Christhie's novels so powerful. "'A Haunting in Venice' seems to have captured the essence of what makes Agatha Christie's works timeless," the critic wrote. "By scaling down and focusing on the smaller elements of both the plot and the characters, Branagh and his team have delivered a film that is both an homage to Christie and a film that far exceeds the first two." 

As of this writing, the film boasts a Fresh Rotten Tomatoes critics score of 82%. 

Critics love the film's star-studded cast

Critics are notably enthusiastic about the film's ability to build up dread and provide solid thrills, but a lot has also been said about the masterful cast that Kenneth Branagh has assembled for "A Haunting in Venice." The Wrap critic Kristen Lopez was particularly impressed with Kelly Reilly and Jamie Dornan. "Not only is Reilly flawless in costume designer Sammy Sheldon's impeccable 1940s wardrobe, but the actress is so fantastic as playing a woman riddled with guilt, but also maybe holding in darkness that no one knows about," Lopez wrote. As for Dornan? Lopez says that the actor "does a lot with a little." 

Tatiana Hullender of Screen Rant had another actor to call out in their review. "[Michelle] Yeoh's eerie performance at the séance sets the stage for supernatural shenanigans, which manage to feel grounded in reality despite Poirot's insistence that they are fiction," Hullender said, praising the recent Oscar winner. The Indepent's Clarisse Loughrey was also compelled to call out Michelle Yeoh's devilishly delightful performance as a medium. "Yeoh is the exception and, unexpectedly, the contrast works – she's the centre of every scene she's in, that unplaceable quality of movie star charisma here given a paranormal sheen," the critic wrote, sharing that she "comfortably steals the show." 

"A Haunting in Venice" also features performances from comedian Tina Fey, "Belfast" star Jude Hill, and "West Side Story" actor Kyle Allen. While this is less star-studded than previous Poirot efforts, it seems like Branagh is aiming for a smaller, more condensed mystery film. Most critics were enthusiastic about "A Haunting in Venice," but some were indifferent about Branagh's chill-inducing mystery flick.

Not everyone loves A Haunting in Venice

There's no such thing as a perfect movie, which is why "A Haunting in Venice" isn't everyone's cup of tea. /Film critic Josh Spiegel was mixed-to-negative on Kenneth Branagh's latest, awarding it a 5/10. "'A Haunting in Venice' does try to spice things up, but all the skewed angles in the world can't hide the fact that this mystery is half as eerie as it wants to be, and roughly as entertaining," Spiegel wrote. While the film's star-studded cast is receiving a decent amount of praise, Spiegel was quick to point out that Tina Fey simply didn't mesh well with Branagh's throwback mystery flick. "...some performers (particularly comic performers) have a more contemporary sensibility and feel out of place in period pieces [...] Fey's performance feels at odds with the others, simply because it's hard to separate her work on 'SNL'" and '30 Rock' and the like with something as old-fashioned as this," the critic shared. 

IndieWire critic Christian Zilko was notably unimpressed with the film, arguing that Branagh should say adieu to Poirot and Agatha Christie. "But if Branagh thinks he's making a significant contribution to [Agatha Christie's] cinematic legacy, it might be time to mercifully euthanize the franchise with an adaptation of Curtain: Poirot's Last Case,'" Zilko concluded in their B- review of the film. 

Murtada Elfadl of The AV Club was also indifferent about the film, arguing that the latest Poirot effort is no different than what Branagh delivered before. "Instead, Branagh and screenwriter Michael Green do not vary much from what they delivered in the other two movies," Elfadl wrote, saying that the film needed "Bigger characters, more opulent settings, and a better story overall." 

"A Haunting in Venice" hits cinemas on September 15.