SPOILER WARNING! Spoilers for A Haunting in Venice are in play. If you haven’t seen this chilling thriller just yet, you’ve been warned!
With A Haunting In Venice, the famed deductive skills of Kenneth Branagh’s Hercule Poirot are put to the ultimate test. In a case that involves potential supernatural threats and very real deaths, Agatha Christie’s Belgian sleuth has to determine what’s truth, what’s fiction, and who’s to blame for all of it. It’s perhaps the man’s most challenging case, and the ending is treat for the audience to see unfold on the big screen.
But just in case you wanted to check your facts and walk through the solution to the third Poirot film, never fear. We’re about to dig into all of the dangerous details and uncover the truth behind what was going on at this perilous palazzo. So if you’re already read into this case, then feel free to proceed. All who haven’t experienced what I called a “gorgeously claustrophobic” film in CinemaBlend’s A Haunting in Venice review are officially warned that spoilers are very much on the way. Now let’s reach out to the past, and see what happened on that Halloween night in Venice, 1946...
The Solution To A Haunting In Venice’s Heinous Crimes
The mystery at the heart of A Haunting in Venice stems from a death that takes place prior to the spooky gathering at the center of the story. Famed opera singer Rowena Drake (Kelly Reilly) lost her daughter to one of two causes. If you’re a skeptic, Alicia Drake (Rowan Robinson) committed suicide in a fugue of illness. Or if you’re more superstitious, Alicia was driven mad by the curse on her family’s palazzo, which is allegedly haunted by the spirits of children left to burn in the plague hospital that the building used to be.
In actuality, Alicia Drake was accidentally driven to death, though that was only because the circumstances were primed by Rowena herself. Alicia died because she was secretly being poisoned by her mother in order to stop her from running off with young chef/fortune hunter Maxime Gerard (Kyle Allen).
Lacing her daughter’s tea with a poisoned honey, Rowena Drake wanted to keep her daughter close to her by a means of Munchausen by proxy. However, one horrific night when Alica Drake’s illness seemed its worst, caretaker Olga Seminoff (Camille Cottin) served her the usual tea – only with an accidentally extra potent dose of honey. That accidental murder set off a chain of events that would come home to roost in 1946 when a seance turns deadly.
The Victims And Survivors Of A Haunting In Venice
While Rowena didn’t necessarily mean to kill her daughter, she did personally influence the murder of two other people. By flat out murdering famed medium Joyce Reynolds (Michelle Yeoh) and coercing party guest/admirer Dr. Leslie Ferrier (Jamie Dornan) into suicide, her secret was supposedly safe. If only Ariadne Oliver (Tina Fey) and Vitale Portfoglio (Riccardo Scamarcio) hadn’t conspired to try and scheme Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) into experiencing an encounter with the dead!
Luckily, the murders only add up to three corpses among A Haunting in Venice’s cast, as the rest of the party’s guests survive. The now orphaned Leopold Ferrier (Jude Hill) is going to live with Olga Seminoff, even though he had his own part in the wrongdoings that led to the night’s events. As Leopold was blackmailing Rowena Drake with the knowledge of her deeds, his father’s death in A Haunting in Venice came from Rowena being convinced it was the lovesick Dr. Leslie Ferrier pulling the strings.
In their final encounter, Hercule Poirot tells the young Leopold to atone for acts through kindness. That in turn inspires the boy to use some of the money he took from Rowena to send Nicholas and Desdemona Holland (Ali Kahn & Emma Laird) to America –fulfilling the dream that helped them survive World War II.
As for Rowena... well, her fate was death no matter how you look at it. However, whether it was a result of clumsiness on a rain soaked night or the ghost of Alicia pulling her off of that balcony is up for debate. Which only opens the door to another big question:
Are There Really Ghosts In A Haunting In Venice?
The answer to this A Haunting in Venice query is very vague, as we first see Hercule Poirot debunking the fraud that is Joyce Reynolds. Even after all of the visions and encounters with Alicia Drake’s ghost plaguing him, Poirot technically writes it all off as the side effects of being poisoned by the same honey that killed Alicia. However, by the time Hercule leaves with the survivors of A Haunting in Venice, he doesn’t seem as dismissive of some sort of spectral presence as he was in the beginning.
While not fully convinced of the phenomenon that only he seemed to see or hear, conversations with Leopold Ferrier about these encounters don’t seem to end with Hercule Poirot totally turning a cold shoulder to the ghosts of the past. It’s not definitively answered whether or not there are ghosts; as with all good stories, some things need to be left up to the mind of the viewer.
Could A Haunting In Venice Serve As Hercule Poirot’s Last Case?
We’ve officially reached the end of what could be called the Hercule Poirot trilogy. Three films starring Kenneth Branagh as the beloved detective are now in the books, and this last case sees Poirot coming out of retirement to solve yet another murder. But could Kenneth Branagh’s sleuth return to his life of gardening and pastries, leaving crime solving behind for good?
Well, yes and no. At the end of A Haunting in Venice, we see that Hercule has indeed returned to consulting the public on their various problem solving needs. So while this movie could be seen as a perfect end to the career of Hercule Poirot, it doesn’t need to be the final time we see him in action on the big screen.
If anything, “old friend” Ariadne Oliver could come back for some more fun as well. While she does deceive Poirot for the sake of inspiring a new bestseller, her handful of Agatha Christie adventures with our dessert-loving detective do leave the door open for her return. And seeing as the timeline of this trilogy spans from 1934’s Murder on the Orient Express to the new 1946 setting in the altered narrative of this latest chapter, there’s room to go back in time to an earlier adventure too.
As Agatha Christie’s great-grandson James Pritchard was ok with the vast changes made to A Haunting in Venice’s story, there’s always room for anything to happen. Provided, of course, that there’s a good reason for making such a change and if the team behind these movies is willing.
In the case of this latest cinematic whodunnit, the audience is given a novel reinvention of Hallowe’en Party’s shocking story. It just so happens that the setting and the crime have been tweaked for maximum horror-thriller excitement. Even if you've spoiled the movie for yourself, you can still see enjoy A Haunting In Venice, which is in theaters now. And for those of you who missed out on Death on the Nile, you can currently stream that caper with the use of a Hulu subscription.