A Haunting in Venice: Composer Hildur Guðnadóttir created the jump scares by just using a solo clarinet

The composer of Poirot’s newest mystery used unconventional methods to get scared reactions with classical instruments.

Last Updated on October 4, 2023

a haunting in venice, jump scares

Hercule Poirot is returning on a new case this week with A Haunting in Venice. The seasoned detective is once again portrayed by Kenneth Branaugh after his previous entries, Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile. This time around, things get scary as Poirot is investigating supernatural happenings in a Venetian villa. The spooky installment opened with Thursday previews that grossed $1.2 million and is on track to earn roughly $15 million over the weekend.

Variety reports that the composer on the film, Hildur Guðnadóttir, who is a big fan of Agatha Christie, wanted to achieve something darker than Branagh previously had with the other films. She explains, “I took a classical romanticism melodic approach because the way you express melody says so much about how you’re expressing yourself. Post-war composers were drawn to tonal expression or lots of experimentation where they used extended techniques and looked at different ways of playing classical instruments.”

Guðnadóttir adds that, by experimenting with the manipulation of classical instruments, such as a solo clarinet, she was able to make something that sounded incredibly paranormal, “Those sounds were happening at the time, and were forward thinking and it lent itself so gloriously to those jump scares.” The movie’s editor, Lucy Donaldson added that one of the big scenes involving the séance was spent getting cut without the music, “We temped very few spots with her previous scores, but it was very late [when we added in the music] because it helped find the natural rhythm of that scene. And if it’s working without music, you know it’s only going to level up when you do add it.”

According to Donaldson, it was an arduous sequence to edit, “This was when things get real. We come with Poirot into this situation. He’s the representation of logic, facts and deduction. The séance questions, is there anything supernatural happening here? And you’re cutting back to his skepticism.”

Her main approach was to capture all the characters’ nervousness, “We’ve met our cast of characters and everyone is jumpy so there were lots of cuts to objects and reactions and builds and builds and builds, and there’s the middle section, and the climax. We were trying to show that everybody is out of their comfort zone for one reason or another. And it makes them more vulnerable, including Poirot.”

Source: Variety

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E.J. is a News Editor at JoBlo, as well as a Video Editor, Writer, and Narrator for some of the movie retrospectives on our JoBlo Originals YouTube channel, including Reel Action, Revisited and some of the Top 10 lists. He is a graduate of the film program at Missouri Western State University with concentrations in performance, writing, editing and directing.