‘Haunting in Venice’ Cinematographer Says Film Drew Inspiration From ‘In Cold Blood’

Kenneth Branagh’s “Haunting in Venice” is a dark, moody ghost story that, no doubt, will draw comparisons to numerous haunted house movies, both classic and contemporary. The film, the third in Branagh’s series of Agatha Christie adaptations, tells the story of detective Hercule Poirot (Branagh) as he investigates the death of a young girl and the belief by her mother (Kelly Reilly) that angry spirits were involved.

For the film’s cinematographer Haris Zambarloukos, there were several classic film inspirations he and Branagh discussed for the film’s look. “We looked at ‘The Innocents’,” Zambarloukos told TheWrap, citing the 1961 feature film starring Deborah Kerr. “We also looked at ‘Kwaidan’, which is a Japanese ghost story,” he said. “They all had a certain eloquence.”

Another major reference, especially considering the belief from those in the movie that a murder has happened, was the 1967 true crime film “In Cold Blood.” The film, focused on the murder of a family by two drifters, is not actually a ghost story but Zambarloukos said there’s shared commonalities between it and Branagh’s feature. “Although that’s not a horror film as such, it is an equally horrific crime and it was set in such a visceral, intimate way,” Zambarloukos said.

Filming in Venice yielded its own haunted atmosphere. Zambarloukos said: “Venice is very hard to get around in, it’s canals and footpaths. So you just take a camera and a tripod and you make your way through the city while it’s dark and you get you get something really special. That was our interpretation of haunted Venice.”

The production was able to get on rooftops and shoot over statues, to showcase the beauty of Venice that audiences don’t often get to see. “Those statues were, they’re almost tributes and ghosts in themselves, to dead people in the past and they seem to be looking down on everyone, especially in St. Mark’s Square,” Zambarloukos said. “The simplicity, and the beauty and the timelessness of it came through, and the kind of Gothic nature in particular.”

“Haunting in Venice” hits theaters Sept. 15.

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