Kenneth Branagh was hoping to scare not only audiences with “A Haunting in Venice,” but also his cast. Director and lead star Branagh brought the Agatha Christie thriller to life by not telling his co-stars Michelle Yeoh, Jamie Dornan, Tina Fey, Kelly Reilly, and Kyle Allen about when jump scares would happen.
“These actors had no warning about what would happen, what we did with lights, wind, doors opening,” Branagh said in a featurette for the film (via Entertainment Weekly). “Agatha Christie was an incredible storyteller. She is the world’s number one mystery writer because she understood a good detective story. ‘Orient Express’ dealt with revenge. ‘Death on the Nile’ dealt with greed. This film is about whether there is anything beyond us, a ghost, a god, whether (my character detective Hercule) Poirot believes in it, that involves him and us being scared.”
“A Haunting in Venice” is set in post-World War II Venice on All Hallows’ Eve. The film follows a now-retired Poirot who is living in self-imposed exile before reluctantly attending a séance at a decaying, haunted palazzo. When one of the guests is murdered, the detective is thrust into a sinister world of shadows and secrets.
Branagh also helmed 2017’s “Murder on the Orient Express” and 2022’s “Death on the Nile,” both Christie adaptations.
“A Haunting in Venice” star Dornan added, “I’ve never been on a set like this before. There’s a great sense of authenticity. It will be a proper thrill for the audience.”
Co-star Fey teased, “It’s not only a murder-mystery, but there’s also a supernatural element to the film which takes it to another level.”
In a press statement, Branagh applauded the lesser-known Christie tale. “Based on a complex, little-known tale of mystery set at Halloween in a pictorially ravishing city, it is an amazing opportunity for us, as filmmakers, and we are relishing the chance to deliver something truly spine-chilling for our loyal movie audiences,” he said.
Similarly, 20th Century Studios president Steve Asbell told The Hollywood Reporter that the film is a “pretty daring shift in genre and in tone” compared to Branagh’s previous Christie adaptations. “It’s post-war Venice and an adaptation of one of the lesser-known novels,” Asbell said. “So I think you’ll see the moustache again.”