The General Journal

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The General Journal

The General Journal

“A Haunting in Venice” is a Bone Chilling Movie

“A Haunting in Venice,” directed by Kenneth Branagh, is an innovative paranormal murder mystery with fascinating cinematography. WARNING: spoilers lie ahead…
Caleb Peponis

Set in the eerie streets of 1940’s Venice, on Halloween night, “A Haunting in Venice” (2023) is a paranormal mystery movie with complex characters and an intricate plot. The movie is loosely based on “Hallowe’en Party” (1969), written by one of the arguably most famous mystery authors of the 20th century, Agatha Christie. The movie is centered around a self-isolated detective, Hercule Poirot, and follows two other Poirot movies with the same actor (“Murder on the Orient Express” and “Death on the Nile”). However, there have been 30 books in this series, 16 of which have been made into moviesstarting in the 1930’s.

Hercule Poirot (played by Kenneth Branagh) attempts to expose mediums as frauds, which causes him to go to an alleged haunted palazzo for a séance. When one of the guests is murdereddun dun duuunPoirot is forced to solve another mystery. Ariadne Oliver (Tina Fey), a mystery author and a friend of Poirot, invites Poirot to the palazzo to see if he can prove that the residence is not in fact haunted by Rowena Drake’s (Kelly Reilly), the owner of the house, recently deceased daughter, Alicia Drake (Rowan Robinson). Also, visiting the palazzo are Olga Seminoff (Camille Cottin), Maxime Gerard (Kyle Allen), Dr. Leslie Ferrier (Jamie Dornan), and his young son, Leopold (Jude Hill), Joyce Reynolds (Michelle Yeoh), and her two orphaned assistants, Nicholos Holland (Ali Khan), and his older sister Desdemona Holland (Emma Laird). Reynolds is thrown off a balcony and dies, shortly after Poirot was almost drowned in a bowl of water used for apple bobbing by a cloaked figure. Poirot shuts the palazzo down to stop anyone from leaving and takes over the case. Poirot also begins to see things, possibly ghosts, watching him. He starts interrogating everyone, but Dr. Ferrier is murdered while resting in a locked room by himself. Eventually, the mystery is solved, and it turns out that Rowena Drake murdered her own daughter, along with Joyce Reynolds and Dr. Ferrier. Rowena and her daughter were very close, but when Alicia got engaged and planned on moving out, Rowena became jealous and used the pollen from flowers in her garden to poison Alicia, so she wouldn’t be able to see Maxime (her fiancé). However, Alicia was accidentally given too much of the poison and overdosed. Her mother threw her over the balcony in an attempt to make it look like suicide. 

But why would Rowena murder anyone else? Well, she killed Joyce Reynolds because she believed that the medium was close to figuring out what happened. Rowena Drake was being blackmailed by someone who knew her crimes, and Rowena believed it must have been Dr. Ferrier. She called Dr. Ferrier while he was trying to rest and told him to kill himself or she would kill his son. However, it was not Dr. Ferrier who blackmailed her, it was his studious son, Leopold, who needed money because his father couldn’t get a job due to his constant battle with PTSD. In a final showdown, Poirot confronts Rowena on the balcony, but before Rowena can murder anyone else, she is thrown off the balcony by the ghost of her daughter. However, it is not determined whether or not the ghost was actually there, as Poirot could have been hallucinating, due to Ariadne Oliver unwittingly poisoning him.

“A Haunting in Venice” has a 76% on Rotten Tomatoes and has generally positive reviews with a three star rating. Most say that the movie was a big step up from the last Hercule Poirot movie, “Death on the Nile” (2022). Personally, I thought that the movie was made very well and it was not very predictable. It was a riveting movie that will keep you guessing until the very end. However, not all reviews are positive. Some say that the movie was a let down after reading Agatha Christie’s books, and that it wasn’t very exciting. People have also said that the acting is subpar and that the movie was too dimly-lit. Overall though, the movie has had generally positive reviews and has grossed $122 million worldwide. If you are a fan of Agatha Christie’s original novels, then you may want to stay away from this movie, as most of Christie’s fans did not enjoy the movie compared to the book. However, if you have not read any of the books, this might be a movie worth watching.

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About the Contributor
Caleb Peponis
Caleb Peponis, Staff Writer
Caleb Peponis is a freshman at Heritage High School, and this is his first year in Journalism. When Caleb isn’t in school or doing homework, he enjoys listening to all types of music (mostly pop and country) and reading books. He mostly reads dystopian books and some  mystery/thrillers. He also enjoys watching TV and spending time with his family and pets. Some of his favorite shows to watch are "Modern Family" and pretty much any competition-type show. He isn’t usually seen on his phone other than when he is texting his friends. Caleb and his family like to go roller skating on the weekends when there’s not a lot going on. He has a younger brother and sister, as well as two dogs and a cat. Along with being in Journalism, Caleb has also taken the intro classes for Graphic Design and Healthcare Services. He takes all Honors classes and is involved in HOSA because he plans on being a pediatric registered nurse. Two of his favorite subjects are math and language arts. Caleb is looking forward to this semester and taking the Journalism class.