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A Haunting in Venice (2023) | Transcript

In post-World War II Venice, Poirot, now retired and living in his own exile, reluctantly attends a seance. But when one of the guests is murdered, it is up to the former detective to once again uncover the killer.
A Haunting in Venice (2023)

A Haunting in Venice is a 2023 American mystery film produced and directed by Kenneth Branagh from a screenplay by Michael Green, loosely based on the 1969 Agatha Christie novel Hallowe’en Party. The movie stars Kenneth Branagh as Hercule Poirot, Michelle Yeoh as Mrs. Reynolds, Jamie Dornan as Dr. Leslie Ferrier, and Tina Fey as Ariadne Oliver.
The plot follows retired Belgian detective Hercule Poirot living in Venice from his self-imposed exile. When approached by another detective to attend a séance and figure out its secrets, he reluctantly agrees. All is fine until a guest is murdered during the ritual, and Poirot must find who did it.

* * *

(MYSTERIOUS MUSIC PLAYING)

(BIRDS CHIRPING)

(BELL TOLLS)

(BELL TOLLING)

(SCREECHES)

(GIRL SCREAMS)

(TENSE MUSIC PLAYING)

(MUSIC FADES OUT)

(HEAVY BREATHING)

(WOMAN SINGING)

(INDISTINCT CONVERSATION)

(INDISTINCT CHATTER)

MAN: Signore Poirot, your pastries.

HERCULE: Ah, monsieur.

The eggs came, signore.

Ah, grazie.

MAN: Poirot!

(INDISTINCT SHOUTING)

Monsieur Poirot, you must help me.

My parents both mysteriously died last year.

My brother, soon after.

Our doctor can’t explain it.

Please, Monsieur. I fear for my life.

They say we’re cursed.

(WOMEN GASP)

VITALE: What did I tell you?

Touch him again and I keep your hand.

HERCULE: Excuse me, sir.

Signore Poirot.

I need to speak to you urgently, please. (SCREAMS)

Hmm.

Monsieur Poirot, there is a lady here.

She says she’s in Venice on urgent business.

She says she’s a friend of yours.

I don’t have any friends.

She said you would say that, so I should give you this.

The authoress.

Hello, young man. Is your mother at home?

You must forgive my bodyguard. His instructions are mine.

No one may pass but the pastry man, twice a day.

Twice a day?

(CHUCKLES) You know me.

Apples only till supper.

Ah, yes.

Oh, gosh, I like this so much.

(ARIADNE CHUCKLES)

Oh, the little chochychochylate.

Hmm. Hercule Poirot really has gone silent.

Walled himself up into retirement.

Cakes for cases.

I am much satisfied.

No.

This is happiness, not satisfaction.

A writer knows the difference.

Even picked Venice to hide in.

A gorgeous relic, slowly sinking into the sea, just like your mind without a challenge. (CHUCKLES)

Don’t underestimate me for a clever turn of phrase.

I am the world’s number one mystery writer.

Or was, anyway.

Bestsellers, 27 of 30 books.

Damn the critics on the last three.

Called them all small beer.

Ariadne Oliver, it is good to see you.

You’re coming with me.

Hmm?

Time to put some life back into your life.

Well, then.

Did you not hear? This is urgent.

You are not the first who has come to seduce me with some irresistible case.

Not a case. It’s much spiffier than that.

You really are cut off from the world. Do you not know what today is?

(LIVELY MUSIC PLAYING)

What is “spiffier”?

MAN: Happy Halloween! Yeah!

We Americans imported loud music and terrible chocolate, but we also brought back Halloween.

There’s a party tonight for the children.

(CHILDREN SINGING)

MAN 2: Hey, kids!

America says, “Happy Halloween!”

MAN 3: Hey! Happy Halloween! Let’s go!

(CHEERY ACCORDION MUSIC PLAYING)

ARIADNE: Poirot, I’ve found something. Someone.

I can’t explain it.

I’ve looked at it from every which way, and I can’t figure it out.

HERCULE: You are up to something, my friend.

Well, “The Unholy Ms. Reynolds.”

She’s a spiritualist or a medium, according to the papers.

“Joyce Reynolds, recently released from jail was the last woman on record imprisoned under the terms of the Witchcraft Act of 1735.”

I’ve seen a million of these so-called psychics, each one a flimflam fake.

Then, there’s that one.

Astonishing.

I tell you, this Ms Reynolds, I sat at a séance.

Things happened.

Tricks.

I am the smartest person I ever met, and I can’t figure it out.

So, I came to the second.

I need Detective Poirot to pop this balloon or God help me, I will end up a believer.

Spot the con I can’t.

Come with me to the orphans’ Halloween party.

Then, afterwards, we’re invited to a séance.

(ARIADNE SPEAKS INDISTINCTLY)

MAN 1: Hey, boys, there’s a Halloween party.

MAN 2: You’re taking her on a date?

(MEN LAUGHING)

MAN: Enjoy the party, kids.

(CHILDREN LAUGHING)

Don’t get too scared now.

(INDISTINCT CHATTER)

(ACCORDION MUSIC CONTINUES PLAYING)

(WOMAN SHOUTING IN DISTANCE)

(MUSIC FADES OUT)

(FIREWORKS EXPLODING)

(CHEERING IN DISTANCE)

(SOMBER MUSIC PLAYING)

(INDISTINCT CHATTER)

(CHILDREN CHATTERING, LAUGHING)

There it is.

Palazzo Lacrime dei Giovani.

In Venice, we say, “Every house is haunted or cursed.”

(MYSTERIOUS MUSIC CONTINUES PLAYING)

(INDISTINCT CHATTER)

MAN: Are you ready, children?

ALL: Yeah!

(ALL CHEERING)

Long ago, this palazzo was an orphanage.

Good doctors and good nurses took care of good children.

Until the Plague.

(PUPPET SHRIEKS)

MAN: Plagues make people afraid and fear makes people do terrible things.

(PUPPET SCREAMS)

(PUPPET WHIMPERING)

Is it not too frightening for the children?

Hmm. Scary stories make life less scary.

(LOCK CLICKS SHUT)

MAN: The children soon realized they were alone.

Locked inside to die.

Starving, calling, clawing.

(PUPPETS SCREAMING)

MAN: Some say the children are still hiding in this palazzo and they want more children to join them.

So, you be careful.

For they want revenge on the doctors and nurses who left them here to die.

(PUPPETS WHISPERING)

(SOFTLY) Watch out for the mark of the Children’s Vendetta.

(CHILDREN GASPING)

MAN: No one here is a doctor, are they? Huh?

CHILDREN: No.

Or a nurse?

CHILDREN: No.

MAN: No?

Then, I guess it’s safe to start the party!

(CHILDREN CHEERING)

(GHOSTLY SHRIEKING)

(LIVELY MUSIC PLAYING)

(CHILDREN CHATTERING)

Don’t! Stop running.

(SIGHS)

(MECHANICAL CLICKING)

Leopold.

Leopold.

There’s an actual, literal party and you’re hiding in a book.

I thought you might play with other children for once.

Games are frivolous.

The Halloween calls for horror stories.

Don’t you think so, Miss Olga?

Don’t you at least want some cake?

That’s for the orphans.

I’ll check on father.

He’s no good at parties.

(CHILDREN SHOUTING INDISTINCTLY)

(MAN BREATHING HEAVILY)

(SINGING) The boys are home again

Oh. Nun alert.

Ms. Oliver, it’s a thrill to have you here.

You’re my favorite author.

Ah.

Your mysteries give me faith the wicked will meet justice.

Sadly, life doesn’t round out so well as detective fiction.

(GIRL SOBBING)

(INDISTINCT SHOUTING)

Whoa!

Yes. Bonsoir. (CHUCKLES)

Are you all right?

It’s so high.

Oh, I understand. It’s very dark up here, isn’t it?

(BREATHES DEEPLY)

(GIRL SOBBING)

And this is our hostess?

ROWENA: This is my house.

HERCULE: The soprano, Rowena Drake.

A diva’s life of glamor.

But she lives here.

ARIADNE: Where did all the money go?

Everyone who ever lived here falls victim to some tragedy.

That’s the legend, anyway.

The Children’s Vendetta.

Someone sees a child’s shadow on the wall, and then darkness comes.

Like her daughter a year ago.

That’s who we’re to hear from tonight.

The lost girl from beyond.

I will not believe in such things.

We’ll see.

ROWENA: Oh, sweetheart, you’re gonna be all right.

(CLOCK CHIMING)

OLGA: Ms Rowena, it’s leaking again.

(HEAVY BREATHING)

LEOPOLD: Dad?

(GASPS)

Are you all right, Dad?

Do you need a pill?

No.

Take some punch, then?

We could go, if you’d prefer.

It’s all right.

I promised Rowena I’d stay.

LEOPOLD: Good.

I was looking forward to the séance.

(CHILDREN SHOUTING INDISTINCTLY)

You do the children a great kindness, madame.

Adults, too.

You care to bob for an apple, Mr. Poirot?

(CHUCKLES SOFTLY)

It looks like fun.

The fun is not for me.

(MYSTERIOUS MUSIC PLAYING)

ROWENA: I am glad for it.

It’s been far too long since there was laughter in this house.

Well, it is a remarkable palazzo.

You can have it.

See, I can’t afford to fix it and I can’t stand to look at it.

And no one will buy it at any price. Not after…

(ALICIA SCREAMING)

ROWENA: Please, oh, God, no!

Forgive me.

I had hoped that seeing all these faces might make it hurt less.

Mrs. Rowena?

ROWENA: Yes?

Your guest is here.

(EXHALES)

God, I’m actually nervous.

(EXHALES)

You believe in psychics?

This house made me believe.

It holds voices.

Whispers.

Sobbing.

My daughter used to stay up at night talking.

I thought it was with her dolls.

My daughter, to hear her voice again.

A word.

I would give that Ms. Reynolds all I have.

(CHILDREN SHOUTING INDISTINCTLY)

This one will be very sad.

Ms. Reynolds.

Everything is prepared for you in the salon.

As your assistant specified.

(CHILDREN CONTINUE SHOUTING INDISTINCTLY)

So noisy, your home.

The children will be gone before we begin.

So many.

Everywhere.

(CHILDREN’S SCREAMS ECHOING)

Horrible memories.

Your daughter’s room is on the third floor.

How did you…?

May we do it there?

Of course.

Ariadne Oliver.

My nemesis.

We meet again. The unholy Ms. Joyce Reynolds.

The press coined that one.

Not sure if I like it.

Bonsoir, madame,

I must say that I expected someone more…

Dramatic? Ridiculous?

An old crone?

Yes, this is the perfect word. (SPUTTERS)

The croney. The old croney.

I didn’t ask to be what I am.

Why I like the term “medium,” sort of middling.

I’m not big or small. I’m not interesting at all.

But I can talk to the dead.

And you?

I am Hercule Poirot.

You were Hercule Poirot.

The detective.

You’re anything but medium. You’re quite famous.

Am I your next quite famous case?

I am retired from cases.

But you are here to discredit me.

Isn’t that why the great writer brought you?

HERCULE: I am here as a favor to Ms. Oliver who is eager to divine your means of divination.

I must tell you, madame, I have been all my life, uncharmed by your kind.

My kind?

Opportunists who prey on the vulnerable, no?

You don’t believe in the soul’s endurance after death?

I have lost my faith.

How sad for you.

Yes, it is most sad. The truth is sad.

Please understand, madame,

I would welcome with open arms any honest sign of devil or demon or ghost for if there is a ghost, there is a soul.

If there is a soul, there is a God who made it, and if we have God, then we have everything.

Meaning, order, justice.

But I have seen too much of the world.

Countless crime, two wars, the bitter evil of human indifference, and I conclude, no.

No God, no ghosts.

With respect, no mediums who can speak to them.

(CHILDREN SCREAMING)

(GLASS BREAKING)

(CHILDREN WHISPERING INDISTINCTLY)

You were saying?

(THUNDER RUMBLING)

(RAIN PATTERING)

(INDISTINCT CHATTER)

(SQUEAKING)

As if I didn’t have enough to clean.

Shouldn’t even be here past dark.

I don’t think they’ll bother us.

Who?

What happens past dark?

Well, still a charlatan?

A ceiling weakened by water damage, unused to rollicking footsteps.

(SCOFFS) No credit for theatrical timing.

(WIND BLOWING VIOLENTLY)

Ms. Alicia’s room is up here.

(SINGING) When the lights go on again

All over the world

And the…

If I may, please, how did the girl die?

The balcony. The canal.

Drowning.

A suicide.

It wasn’t her fault. They pushed her to it.

Mrs. Seminoff, please.

What then, Doctor?

You cared for her. You saw.

(FOOTSTEPS RECEDING)

HERCULE: Uh, wait, please.

Who has been inside here tonight?

Ms. Reynolds, her assistant?

No one. I have the only key.

No one’s stepped foot here since Ms. Alicia passed but me.

(LOCK CLICKS OPEN)

To dust a bit and to check on Harry.

Who is Harry?

(SCREECHING)

(CONTINUES SCREECHING)

OLGA: Her friend.

She told him everything.

He used to speak before she died.

Now, he just cries.

(SOMBER INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC PLAYING)

Everything is just as she left it.

Ms. Rowena wouldn’t let me move a thing.

(OLGA SIGHS HEAVILY)

(BREATH QUIVERS)

(PRAYING IN LATIN)

(IN ENGLISH) Alicia and her were inseparable.

YOUNG ALICIA: Can’t catch me!

YOUNG ROWENA: Yes, I can!

OLGA: This palazzo was their oasis.

Only a week at a time between travel for the opera.

(GIRLS LAUGHING)

But Alicia had the children’s ghosts for company.

She grew so beautiful.

Then she met her chef, Maxime.

They were engaged so fast.

So in love.

Then, she and her fiancé quarreled.

She moved back here to the palazzo.

That’s when she started to see the children.

They wanted her for themselves.

She suffered her last weeks in that bed seeing things.

(BREATHING HEAVILY)

Shadows.

The children are calling her, she said.

“They want you here with them.”

They drove her mad.

(CONTINUES BREATHING HEAVILY)

Ms. Rowena didn’t leave her side, begging the spirits to let her be.

They didn’t.

(WATER SPLASHES)

(FAINT SCREAM ECHOING)

They left the mark of the Children’s Vendetta.

The police said the cuts were from the fall.

The police…

JOYCE: Listening.

Now, this woman, she wants to disturb Alicia’s soul.

JOYCE: Listening.

OLGA: And I am telling you, monsieur, this is not right.

This is against nature and the Good Lord.

Somebody will have to pay.

JOYCE: Listening.

So much pain here.

(SOFT SQUEAK)

(SOFT SQUEAK)

Baba.

Yeah.

Baba the Rabbit.

(BULB SHATTERS)

(GASPS)

(GASPS)

(DOORBELL RINGING)

(MAN SHOUTING INDISTINCTLY)

Maxime, no.

“Maxime, be at Palazzo, 10 p.m. Important news about Alicia Drake.”

I was invited.

Not by me.

You’re always trying to kick me out, Rowena.

It’s never worked before.

If there’s something to hear, I’ll hear it.

Well, tell that to your new fiancée.

Waited a whole six months after Alicia died.

I hear she’s insensibly rich.

LandgrantsfromKingGeorge rich.

Bought me my own bistro on Madison Avenue.

I’m gonna be a New Yorker and a rich one, which is the only kind to be.

You should come visit. I’ll buy you a hot dog.

Should I throw him out?

Try it.

Give me the excuse.

ROWENA: Do whatever you want, Maxime. You always do.

I lost too, Rowena.

(THUNDER RUMBLING)

How many are we? Nine or 10?

Oh, I don’t know. Take 12 chairs, I think.

ARIADNE: (GASPS) A full house.

A séance? Christ in a hat! Is that what this is?

(MYSTERIOUS MUSIC PLAYING)

LESLIE: A typewriter.

No Ouija board? Crystal ball?

I think myself more secretary than anything.

The voices speak…

(TYPEWRITER COGS WHIRRING)

…and I take dictation.

LESLIE: Leopold, perhaps go and read in the library.

LEOPOLD: I want to see Alicia.

She was my friend too.

You’re not scared of ghosts?

I talk to ghosts here all the time.

JOYCE: Do you?

They say you’re a fake.

(THUNDER RUMBLING)

No one touch me until the trance has ended.

(EXHALES SOFTLY)

Alicia Drake, I believe it was you who called to me.

(BREATHING SHARPLY)

(BREATH QUIVERING) Too many spirits.

This house is spilling with the dead.

Some souls can’t let go.

Do we stop, Ms. Reynolds?

No.

If someone wants to be heard, we are here.

Listening.

Spirits, you scream and shout and no one hears.

We do now.

Alicia Drake, find your voice. (BREATHING HEAVILY)

It just got cold. Does anyone else feel a chill?

JOYCE: Is someone there?

(TYPEWRITER CLACKS)

DESDEMONA: “Y.”

Yes.

She didn’t touch the key, I swear.

MAXIME: She must have. You can’t all be such fools.

OLGA: This is wrong. This is very wrong.

Who is there?

Alicia Drake.

Listening.

We are here.

Listening.

It is the hallow tide.

We are close.

Your spirit is close, your voice is loud.

(TENSE MUSIC PLAYING)

Alicia.

(TYPEWRITER CLACKS)

DESDEMONA: “A.” Alicia.

JOYCE: Alicia, I feel you are in pain.

Does it hurt? Please, tell me.

Did someone hurt you?

(TYPEWRITER CLACKS)

DESDEMONA: Yes.

HERCULE: No!

Poirot, let her finish!

No! First, let us meet…

(SIGHS)

…a secret confederate in the chimney.

(GRUNTING)

Nicholas, are you hurt?

I’m all right.

HERCULE: Ah, Nicholas. The second assistant.

I am pleased to meet you.

By your similar and piercing green eyes, I take you for the first assistant’s halfbrother.

Ah, a magnetic switch.

Et voilà, the talking typewriter.

A fake?

Mrs. Seminoff,

your dedication to housekeeping could be improved.

No one had been in this room except you, yet my new friend left his footstep in the fireplace.

The bright scratch at the keyhole indicates a lock recently picked.

Ms. Oliver, you must find a new subject for your book.

Ms. Drake, I am sorry for your loss, but this oracle is a fake.

(FOREBODING MUSIC PLAYING)

(JOYCE SCREAMING)

(JOYCE CONTINUES SCREAMING)

(SCREECHING)

(CONTINUES SCREAMING)

(DEMONIC ROAR)

(LOW GROWLING)

Where’s Baba?

JOYCE: (STRAINED) Alicia.

Did someone take him?

(JOYCE SCREAMING)

Did you?

I didn’t touch anything.

(CONTINUES SCREAMING)

Alicia.

Mama.

(GASPS)

(IN ALICIA’S VOICE) Mama?

(BREATH TREMBLING)

(IN NORMAL VOICE) Thirsty.

So…

(IN ALICIA’S VOICE) Thirsty.

Alicia?

(SOBBING)

(BREATHING HEAVILY) Hurt.

(IN ALICIA’S VOICE) Why would you leave me?

No.

(BREATHING HEAVILY)

(IN NORMAL VOICE) I don’t want…

(BREATHING HEAVILY) I don’t…

(IN ALICIA’S VOICE) …want to die.

What is happening?

(CHAIR SQUEAKING)

(IN NORMAL VOICE) Alicia showing me.

I see her on the balcony.

Not alone.

She didn’t jump.

(LOUDLY) Murderer!

(IN ALICIA’S VOICE) You killed me. You killed me.

(IN NORMAL VOICE) Who?

Show me. Who?

(IN ALICIA’S VOICE) You killed me! You killed me!

You killed me!

(IN NORMAL VOICE) Who hurt you?

(IN ALICIA’S VOICE) You killed me!

You killed me!

(IN NORMAL VOICE) Show me!

(IN ALICIA’S VOICE) You killed me!

(IN NORMAL VOICE) Who hurt you?

What happened?

(IN ALICIA’S VOICE) Murder!

(CHURCH BELL TOLLING)

(CHURCH BELL CONTINUES TOLLING)

(OLGA PRAYING IN LATIN)

(IN ENGLISH) Satanic.

She truly is unholy.

It was Alicia’s voice.

Someone must have killed her.

We can’t prove any of it was real.

ARIADNE: Then, what was it?

Showmanship.

Theater. Catching us in a group hysteria.

That wasn’t War of the Worlds on the radio.

The damn doors blew open. I can’t explain it.

ROWENA: I can.

That was my daughter.

(THUNDER RUMBLING)

(ARIADNE SCOFFS)

Oh, no.

Don’t you dare leave without saying it.

You saw what I saw, and what you saw was…

Was fake.

Real. That woman is proof. Living proof.

(GASPS) There’s a title.

Sure as hell, she’s my next book, and sure as hell, it’s a hit.

A big beer book.

Good God, I have to start writing right away.

The woman who stumped Hercule Poirot.

I admit I cannot solve all of her methods in this moment, but of course I will.

You won’t. Come on.

You should be relieved.

And how incredible to believe, to know the world has mystery.

A God who cares enough to make abiding souls.

After death comes…

Nothing.

Something.

If there was a God, he would not break his rule for her.

(THUNDER RUMBLING)

You’re all right.

I hope you’ll be back tomorrow.

Rowena made me promise to sit for her again.

And Miss Oliver says I should prepare to be quite famous.

VITALE: Dottore, I’ll find us a boat.

HERCULE: Grazie.

These spirits were particularly savage.

(HERCULE SCOFFS)

Sittings always exact a price.

As I’m sure do you.

You are amongst frauds, the gifted one.

I wish I was a fraud.

Be less painful.

(SUSPENSEFUL MUSIC PLAYING)

I think you know something of this, monsieur.

Someone dies and we comfort the grieving with secrets plain to us.

Both creatures who speak for the dead, who know the dead too well, I think.

Imagine… (SIGHS) a war nurse who hears ghosts, surrounded by screaming.

(MUFFLED SCREAMING ECHOING)

On her ward, inside her mind.

Wave after wave of the dying and the dead.

And the only thing that stopped the pain was telling the mourners what I heard.

Ease their suffering as only I can.

You’d begrudge that?

You made a mother believe her daughter’s soul is in torment.

This is not generous.

Not gentle, not humble.

I felt pain.

I saw a murder…

Did you see who killed Alicia Drake?

It was not revealed. Maybe tomorrow.

A lucrative convenience.

Why is this…?

Terrors for children, Ms. Reynolds.

You might learn from them.

Children can suffer, as much as those orphans, and still laugh and play and bob for apples.

They’re alive.

(SCOFFS) But you…

Death everywhere you went.

All your life.

Soldiers…

Friends…

Katherine.

We shall not meet again.

You persist that you are real.

And if I’m not, who’s getting hurt?

Magic won’t come unless you call it in, unless it really is all true.

Lighten up, pal.

You might have fun.

I’d say to remember me, but you will.

(CLOCK CHIMING IN DISTANCE)

(CHIMING CONTINUES)

(HISSING)

(SUSPENSEFUL MUSIC PLAYING)

(HERCULE CHUCKLES)

“Lighten up.”

(INHALES, EXHALES)

(FOOTSTEPS APPROACHING HURRIEDLY)

(STRAINED GRUNTING)

(STRAINED GRUNTING CONTINUES)

VITALE: Monsieur Poirot!

(FOOTSTEPS APPROACHING)

Dottore!

Monsieur Poirot!

Dottore!

(HERCULE GURGLING)

(GAGGING)

VITALE: Monsieur Poirot, can you hear me?

Who did this?

I left Ms. Reynolds…

I stopped by the apples. Silly.

(PANTING)

I lifted my mask.

It was her mask.

Where is Ms. Reynolds?

(WOMAN SCREAMING IN DISTANCE)

MAXIME: What was that?

LESLIE: What’s going on?

LEOPOLD: What was that?

HERCULE: Was that her?

MAXIME: What’s happening?

What?

(SCREAMS)

(CONTINUES SCREAMING)

(ARIADNE CONTINUES SCREAMING)

(ARIADNE CONTINUES SCREAMING IN DISTANCE)

(THUNDER RUMBLING)

VITALE: I will call my old station.

I should know the man on duty.

I thought my cupboards were bare.

No, I scrounged up some tea left from the party.

Found your honey in the linen closet.

Merci.

(SPEAKING ITALIAN)

Vitale Portfoglio.

(IN ENGLISH) What do we do?

She was our ticket.

We’ll get there without her.

I promise.

(VITALE SPEAKING IN ITALIAN)

LESLIE: (IN ENGLISH) None of you saw anyone on the stairs?

Some things can’t be seen.

Maybe she jumped.

She seemed the type.

No. Not Ms. Reynolds. Never.

She talked about a murder.

She could have known something.

You still think she’s real?

Please. She made up that murder idea to impress a famous author and to bait the hook on a new income stream.

Then, why is she dead?

Gravity.

She spoke in Alicia’s voice.

Don’t look at me.

I was being interrogated by your lady writer.

Ask her. Then, ask the doctor where he was.

Sick bastard already killed here once.

OLGA: It wasn’t either of them. You know what it was.

Hateful things live in this house.

That woman called to them and they answered.

In the war, before she did sittings.

Ms. Reynolds was in the British Army.

She served with the camps at Malta.

She was a nurse.

ROWENA: A nurse.

The Children’s Vendetta.

(SETS CUP ON TABLE LOUDLY)

(RECEIVER CLICKS)

The canals are not safe.

We can’t get a boat here until the storm clears.

When will that be?

VITALE: It’s out of police control, signora.

Well, I won’t sit here and wait.

I never spent the night in this house before and I won’t now.

(GATE RATTLING)

(ARIADNE SCREAMS)

MAXIME: Hey!

DESDEMONA: What’s going on?

NICHOLAS: Sir, you can’t do this.

MAXIME: You can’t lock us in here.

ROWENA: What are you doing?

You can’t trap us here.

(LOCK CLICKS)

A medium boasts of having a vision of murder.

Now, she is dead.

One of you felt her eyes upon you.

Killed her, tried to kill me.

No one should leave this place until I know who.

Commissario, stand here and see these gates do not open.

Monsieur Gerard, stand here and watch the commissario.

You suspect me? I was a cop.

All the more reason to suspect you.

They already killed tonight.

You will all have your chance to speak.

And call back the police.

Tell them Hercule Poirot is on the case.

(BREATHING HEAVILY)

(FOREBODING MUSIC PLAYING)

ARIADNE: Oh, is this where she…?

The attempt on my life occurred at approximately two minutes after the chime of midnight.

You were the first to find the body at, uh…?

Don’t you dare look at me like a murder suspect.

We’re old friends.

Every murderer is somebody’s old friend.

But you have written too many clever murders to fall at the foot of your first victim.

And you are so far viably alibied by the chef, for the time, which is why I shall now ask you to assist me in my investigation.

When do we start?

When you collect for me our host.

I knew you were in there somewhere.

All it took was a corpse and look at you.

Hercule Poirot all over again.

(FOOTSTEPS RECEDING)

Baba the Rabbit?

Poirot!

How the hell?

(SOFT SQUEAK)

(GASPS)

ROWENA: Baba the Rabbit?

Are you sure?

Under that mess of paintings?

Where were you when Ms. Reynolds…?

We were in the music room.

And when was that?

Midnight, just before.

And then you came running?

If I may ask, what is directly above this balcony?

(THUNDER RUMBLING)

ROWENA: The garden was our secret hideaway.

It was my daughter’s favorite place.

I let it all die.

Our bees.

We made honey.

My daughter, she used to tease me.

“All this effort for a teaspoon of wildflower honey that we can buy for six lira.”

I held hope they’d survive, but…

Poor things.

(METAL SCRAPING)

How did you come to invite Ms. Reynolds to your home?

Couldn’t we get out of the rain for this?

Oh, mais non, let us enjoy this secret garden.

Well, I read about her in a magazine.

I didn’t think much of it.

And then, out of the blue one day, she wrote to me.

HERCULE: A letter from a stranger.

But she would know you from the opera, no?

ROWENA: But it was the name she used.

She said that she heard a message from Aspasia.

That…

That was a pet name that she used to use for me.

Aspasia, the great love of the King of Pontus from Mitridate.

It was Mozart’s first opera.

It was my first starring role.

Alicia was born two months before, and…

I found my voice because of her.

And ever since, I can’t sing without knowing that she’s waiting in my dressing room.

I still can’t.

You will never perform again?

There is no music without her.

I turned down marriage proposals without even a thought.

She said yes to her first.

To the charming chef Maxime Gerard.

He is a pompous ass out to marry the biggest purse he can find.

When they got engaged, I tore out every flower in the garden and I got on a boat to Istanbul.

But he must have found that I wasn’t as rich as he’d thought.

One of the best days of my life was when he said that he had met someone else.

And that he called the whole thing off.

But that’s when the worst days started.

Her illness.

Her mind was on fire.

(BREATH TREMBLING) She was like a little girl again.

Thank you, Ms. Drake.

Ms. Oliver.

(RATTLING)

OLGA: I’m a terrible housekeeper.

I’m all she could get.

Superstitious city.

But you are superstitious, too.

This palazzo you believe is haunted, yes?

Ms. Rowena may own it, but the spirits possess it.

HERCULE: And where were you, Madame Seminoff, when these murderous ghosts turned Joyce Reynolds into one of their own?

Make light, go on.

Why do you ask all these questions?

I did nothing wrong.

It’s what he does. (WHISPERING) Or used to do.

I’m helping him, you know, he’s back at it for the moment.

It’s going well.

What is it that you do?

What is it that I do?

Um…

When a crime has been committed, I can, by application of order and method and the slow extinguishing of my own soul, find without fail or doubt, whodunit.

Like in your books, your silly detective from Finland, he’s making lists.

Do you base yourself on her writing?

(CLEARS THROAT) Would you mind telling us where you were at midnight?

(WHISPERS) For the lists.

In the music room with Ms. Rowena.

And she joined you there at midnight.

You are absolutely sure of this?

I was watching the clock and was grateful that she did.

But you did not approve of the fortune teller.

I believe you called her “satanic.” Um…

Your mind goes, perhaps to, um, Exodus

22:18?

(SPEAKING LATIN)

HERCULE: (IN ENGLISH) “Do not suffer a sorceress to live.”

The Bible warns against it with reason.

A witch on her Sabbath, huh?

Oh.

To be drowned or burned

or thrown off a high balcony?

No, I am no vigilante.

But your scripture is keen.

No less than a strict Vulgate Latin.

Not the product of a parochial school, but perhaps a convent.

I found my call to be a nun before I could read.

I wore the habit nine years at Ospedale della Pietà.

And then…

And then I met Mr. Seminoff.

He came to fix the roof.

God sets challenges.

You fell in love and forgot God.

No, it’s not that simple.

HERCULE: One final question.

For the lists, of course. Um…

(GIRL SINGING IN ITALIAN FAINTLY IN DISTANCE)

Pardon, I believed I heard something.

You who fear the dark arts so,

why would you even attend a séance?

An abominated act here at night, when you are loath to remain?

There’s only one to whom I must answer.

And that is not you.

(MYSTERIOUS MUSIC PLAYING)

(WATER DRIPPING)

Poirot.

Mrs. Olga Seminoff, as a nun, what was your saint’s name?

Maria.

You won’t get far on a broken leg.

LESLIE: Jagged weapon. Not too sharp.

Nails, maybe.

And no other marks on her.

Other than the obvious.

(SUITCASE CLATTERS)

Oh.

(OBJECTS CLATTERING)

HERCULE: Nothing else unusual about her condition?

LESLIE: Impaled on classical art might be enough.

But what of the left wrist?

You ignore an injury, as well as the precise time of death.

(GLASS BREAKING)

(BREATH TREMBLING)

Missed that.

You’re staring at me.

Stop!

You think I’m a loony?

I’m not!

LEOPOLD: Dad.

(BREATHING HEAVILY)

Are you all right?

Yeah.

Just up here if you need me.

LESLIE: Mmmhmm.

Really wish you hadn’t asked me.

Battle scars are not always of the body.

You served?

15th of April, ’45.

It was all supposed to be over.

We crossed the Rhine, east in the push for Berlin.

Found the gates at the camp at Bergen-Belsen.

Oh, God.

LESLIE: “Liberating.”

Nursing skeletons back to life.

We killed two the first day with milk. We didn’t know.

Then typhus.

All we had was aspirin and opium.

We burned down the huts.

I wrote Leo a letter.

And then shot myself through the chest.

I was told to stop practicing when I got home.

Except for one patient last year.

Alicia Drake.

A favor to Rowena.

Nobody else would see her.

Not here.

I’d been her family doctor so long, I should have said no.

But you were at a disadvantage there.

Because you are in love with Rowena Drake.

Lucky to be in her life at all.

I… I know this has been…

(GIRL SINGING IN ITALIAN FAINTLY IN DISTANCE)

I know this has been difficult but in your opinion, could Alicia Drake have been murdered?

Alicia told me what she saw.

She said the children were taunting her.

I didn’t listen.

I wrote it off as a broken heart when she was going mad.

She needed help.

I gave her sedatives, like milk to the starving.

There is no such thing as psychic phenomena.

There is psychic pain.

A loony like me should have known.

Are we through?

HERCULE: Hmm.

(CLICKS TONGUE)

Um…

Merci, Doctor Ferrier.

(SNIFFLES)

(BREATH TREMBLING)

(SUSPENSEFUL MUSIC PLAYING)

(AIR HISSING FROM TAP)

(SLOW, DRY RUMBLING)

(RUMBLING STOPS)

(DROPLET DRIPS)

(FOREBODING MUSIC PLAYING)

(GASPS)

(TAP RUNNING)

(WINCES)

I suppose I’m nowhere on your list.

Of who to interview.

I’ll wait, sir.

The terrifying Edgar Allan Poe.

For a boy your age, it is not better perhaps, Charles Dickens?

He’s a bit silly. Don’t you think?

(DOOR SLAMS OPEN)

My father’s jumpy like you.

They call it war neurosis. Battle fatigue.

I think that’s unfair.

He’s not tired.

He’s broken.

He was with me at midnight, if you were wondering.

I was wondering, I admit.

With you at midnight, yes?

In the kitchen, waiting for Ms. Rowena.

He wanted to say good night.

Of course.

Her assistants came in just after, so they’re still on your list.

Everyone is on my list.

(TAPS RUNNING)

You left on the taps.

Oh, I…

I am afraid, I do not know myself tonight.

You’re feeling things.

Hmm?

Voices.

It’s All Hallows’ Eve.

The dead are as close as they can be.

You were dead, too, sir.

Even if only for a moment.

They see you as one of their own.

One with something to say would be wise to come to you.

You talk like Ms. Reynolds.

She only pretended to know.

No wonder they got cross with her.

You have much sympathy with the dead.

Some of them are my friends.

Excuse me.

Merci, Monsieur Leopold.

You’re welcome.

ARIADNE: Hercules.

Jumpy.

Nicholas and Desdemona are ready.

(HERCULE BREATHING HEAVILY)

We can wait for the police.

I am Hercule Poirot, no?

No.

Yes. Yes.

Yes.

If the police can succeed where I cannot, I will be the next one off the balcony into the canal.

Back to his old self.

What do you think so far?

Well…

My money’s on the housekeeper.

Good taste in books, but brimstone fire burns hot.

And Rowena Drake needed the victim alive.

Although that little boy, all the charm of chewing tinfoil.

Perhaps, perhaps.

Every theory aspires to fact before the information is gathered.

Order and method.

And lists.

And lists.

We continue to those who knew her best, her assistants.

Do you really think the help had motive?

The help always have motive, first having to endure to be called “the help.”

(DOOR LOCK CLICKS)

(DOOR SQUEAKING)

(SIGHS) Him again.

Those two criminals are not to be trusted.

Criminals? Those children? You might have mentioned that.

I’m telling you now.

(MEN SHOUTING INDISTINCTLY)

Couldn’t I do this with my sister?

Uh, she waits for you comfortably.

Where is my brother?

He waits for you comfortably.

Desdemona and Nicholas Holland.

NICHOLAS: Our passports are forgeries.

Yes. And not very good ones.

Horvát Nipkin and Dorenia before.

Born in Hungary.

(SOMBER MUSIC PLAYING)

Village burned out of existence.

Of all our family, somehow we were still alive.

We took care of each other.

At midnight, we snuck a drink in the kitchen.

The creepy kid was there.

HERCULE: He has you coming in just after the hour.

He is mistaken.

HERCULE: And how long were you in Ms. Reynolds’ employ?

Just over a year.

HERCULE: You sure?

The best year we ever had.

We haven’t been hungry since we started fronting for her.

I don’t know what we’ll do without her.

We managed before her.

Oh, yes, you stole.

We were thieves, not murderers.

We did what we had to survive the war.

She just knew things.

And if she says Alicia Drake was murdered…

Pure phony.

She was magic.

So, all of these séance in which you participated…

DESDEMONA: It was fake. Fake.

Fake?

They were fake, the spirit meetings?

It was all fake.

All of the séances?

It was all a show.

All a show, a fake. Mmm, strange.

And is this magic too?

The control for your talking typewriter?

I mean, we’d set some tricks.

Only to drive home the reality of her visions.

She ordered me around like a duchess and flirted with Nicholas to keep him in line.

We have put up with worse.

“We’ll get there without her.”

Where were you running off to?

We’re going to Missouri.

Missouri.

Missouri?

We were hiding in the Murrhardt Forest.

Living on weeds and mice.

The American trucks, they came through Heilbronn and I thought we’re dead when they caught us.

They taught us the Lindy Hop.

We’d never seen anything like them before.

This mix of men, their colors and their voices.

One of them tacked up this sheet.

They had a film projector, but only half a movie.

We used to watch half of Meet Me in St. Louis every night on an army sheet for a month.

DESDEMONA: We watched it over and over.

I still don’t how it ends.

Oh, it’s a…

It ends happily. (CLEARS THROAT)

“St. Louis, Missouri.”

Just saying those words could get my sister to fall asleep.

It was the color.

It was the beautiful people.

You know, it was, no one was sick.

No one was starving or dying.

5135 Kensington Avenue.

That’s where we decided to live.

It’s her dream so it’s mine too.

We only had to endure the duchess until we had enough to buy our way in.

And start over.

Stupid to have a dream.

But impatient with your dream, you grew brazen and skimmed from her proceeds.

“Clang, clang, clang, went the trolley.”

What? No, we didn’t.

Your brother already admits that you did.

Idiot.

Your sister already admits that you did.

Not from Ms. Reynolds. We wouldn’t.

Perhaps she discovered your theft and made threats.

Perhaps you had had enough experience of the police’s cruel treatment of stateless Romani urchins, and, wishing to avoid deportation, or worse, killed her.

You, the trusted help.

(GRUNTS)

Nicholas!

Nicholas, where are you?

(SHRIEKS, GRUNTS)

If I’m trapped here, so are you.

(THUNDER RUMBLING)

Doesn’t mean that I killed her.

Damn well ran like she did.

Clear motive, both unaccounted for at her time of death.

I’m changing my guess.

It is certainly possible. Yes. Yes.

You’re doing that thing where you pretend to know more than everyone else in the world.

I as yet know nothing.

The truth does not come without a tax of effort.

You woke the bear from his sleep. You cannot cry when he tangos.

That’s not an expression in any language.

We continue.

(GIRL SINGING IN ITALIAN FAINTLY IN DISTANCE)

(SINGING GROWS LOUDER)

Can you hear this?

All around us.

VITALE: I heard nothing.

DESDEMONA: Your investigator has poached his egg.

ARIADNE: (SIGHS) Poirot.

A bang to the head might be your limit for tonight.

(SINGING STOPS)

Someone else is in this house.

Did you hear it?

Yes.

Me and you, then.

Listening.

Wait.

(TELEPHONE RINGING)

(STATIC CRACKLING)

Still dead.

(SUSPENSEFUL MUSIC PLAYING)

(GIRL’S LAUGHTER ECHOING)

(FOOTSTEPS ECHOING)

(GIRL SINGING IN ITALIAN FAINTLY IN DISTANCE)

(BIRD SCREECHING)

(BREATHING HEAVILY)

HERCULE: It is all right. You can come out now.

(EXHALES)

You’re not in any trouble.

There is nothing to fear.

You came with the other children, yes?

And you have been hiding here all this time.

(SIGHS)

Did you hear the woman fall?

Did you see?

Did someone push her?

Who are you talking to?

(HERCULE GASPS)

(DOOR SLAM ECHOING)

A child.

You must have heard.

(LOUD RUMBLING)

(GASPS)

(BIRD SCREECHING)

That I heard.

(LOUD RUMBLING CONTINUES)

(FOREBODING MUSIC PLAYING)

DESDEMONA: Let us go!

NICHOLAS: Untie us, you pig!

(DESDEMONA GRUNTING)

You can’t leave us here!

(DESDEMONA AND NICHOLAS SHOUTING INDISTINCTLY)

(BREATHING HEAVILY)

You heard that. You all…

MAXIME: Must be the pipes.

Pipes? It sounds like the Blitz.

ROWENA: In all my years here, I’ve never heard this.

OLGA: I have. When they’re angry.

We’ve upset them.

VITALE: How do we unupset them?

LEOPOLD: Listen.

(CONTINUES BREATHING HEAVILY)

(LOUD RUMBLING)

It comes from the basement.

There is no basement in this house.

(LOUD RUMBLING CONTINUES)

(FOREBODING MUSIC CONTINUES PLAYING)

(LAMP SQUEAKING)

(THUD)

(WIND BLOWING)

(LOUD RUMBLING CONTINUES)

ARIADNE: “Dottore.” Doctor. The Children’s Vendetta.

You wanna go down into that?

(ARIADNE SIGHS)

(CONTINUES BREATHING HEAVILY)

(LOUD RUMBLING CONTINUES)

LESLIE: (SINGING) All over the world

LEOPOLD: Dad?

The boys are home again

(RATS SQUEAKING)

They really did lock those children in here to die.

Leave him. He’s having a nerve storm.

Damn it, Ferrier. Not now!

Pull it together.

Think of your son.

(BREATHING HEAVILY)

(LESLIE GRUNTS)

ROWENA: (GASPS) Oh!

Stop it!

LEOPOLD: Dad!

ROWENA: Stop it! Stop it!

(LOUD RUMBLING)

(INHALES SHARPLY)

Storm waves. Not ghosts.

OLGA: Please, stop it!

LEOPOLD: Stop!

(OLGA SCREAMS)

LEOPOLD: Dad!

(BOTH GRUNTING)

(BOTH GRUNTING)

ARIADNE: Oh. Stop it.

(GRUNTING)

(LEOPOLD GRUNTING)

(MAXIME GRUNTS)

(OLGA SCREAMS)

(GRUNTING)

LEOPOLD: Dad, stop it!

OLGA: Are you all right? You all right?

(GRUNTS)

LEOPOLD: Dad, please, stop!

OLGA: Stop it!

LEOPOLD: Please, stop!

(GASPS)

(BEES BUZZING)

(BOTH GRUNTING)

(MAXIME GRUNTING, PANTING)

Dad. Dad.

Dad. It’s me.

(LESLIE PANTING)

It’s me.

I’m right here.

You’re here with me.

You see me?

You see me?

(LESLIE PANTING)

It’s just a thing.

I know.

(VITALE GRUNTS)

Stronzo!

(IN ENGLISH, WHISPERING) Shh, Dad.

(LEOPOLD SHUSHING)

It’s okay. Dad.

Just needs his rest.

Don’t you, Dad?

I should be taking care of you.

You do.

(KISSES)

Rest, monsieur.

LESLIE: I should have listened.

I saw.

Demons, evil, they’re everywhere in this house.

You and me, we’re the same.

(GIRL SINGING IN ITALIAN FAINTLY IN DISTANCE)

Wherever we go, death follows.

There must be a rational answer for all of this.

In the basement, there are bees.

Upstairs, there is an ordinary killer.

LESLIE: No.

(SINGING CONTINUES)

Listen.

Believe.

(SINGING STOPS)

ROWENA: He can rest now in my music room.

It’s almost soundproof.

We should lock it. For his safety.

(LOCK CLICKING)

But please, you keep the key. For ours.

(FOOTSTEPS RECEDING)

HERCULE: Merci.

Come on, Leopold.

It’s time for more cake, don’t you think?

LEOPOLD: I’ve had too much.

ROWENA: Well, I haven’t.

(CHIMING)

MAXIME: Of course, she’d say that.

From her perspective, it’s true, I did kill Alicia.

Rowena believes what she wants.

A medium saw Alicia murdered, color me the gunman.

HERCULE: You do not believe Ms. Reynolds, her typewriter with the message from the departed of your initial.

“M” for Maxime.

A haunted house?

Humans are so desperate to shape chaos into tidy stories, double that in distress.

It isn’t a wash of a trillion stars, it’s ol’ Cassiopeia.

That blur of light in the family photo? That must be Grandad’s ghost.

Hmm.

Alicia was mentally ill.

It killed her.

It didn’t have to.

A proper doctor would have treated her properly.

Not that twitch salad.

(SCRAPING)

Shit!

(KNIFE CLATTERS)

(EXHALES)

(DRY SQUEAKING)

Honey. Good on a cut. Ancient antiseptic.

(MAXIME SIGHS)

That’s not wildflower.

I can’t place it.

HERCULE: Oh!

Ah. Alicia Drake.

Such sunshine happiness.

Torn in two.

Alicia tore up the photo in her room the night I ended it.

It’s the last time we spoke.

HERCULE: So, you did break off your engagement.

You heard. She wasn’t rich enough for me.

You carry her photograph in your pocket. You came tonight when summoned.

I believe that you loved Alicia Drake more than the money.

And yet, you walked away.

Some women, you marry them, you marry their mother, too.

So, the mother did not approve of you.

She wouldn’t approve of the Pope.

Rowena didn’t know how to exist alone.

Tore up the garden in spite, took off abroad.

Alicia was all twisted with guilt, wanted to chase her around the world.

And I finally realized

I would never be the most important thing in her life.

So, you broke it off and broke her heart.

All because a woman made you feel small.

I returned to Venice to beg her to take me back.

When I heard she was sick, Rowena wouldn’t let me see her.

Or show her my letters.

The next time I saw Alicia was in a coffin.

(SIGHS)

Maybe it was my fault.

(BREATHING HEAVILY)

If you will permit, your invitation, please?

Ms. Oliver.

(FOOTSTEPS APPROACHING)

ARIADNE: A simple note.

HERCULE: No distinguishing language.

The stationery is plain. It is cleanly typewritten.

Professionally anonymous.

(GIRL SINGING IN ITALIAN FAINTLY IN DISTANCE)

(HERCULE GROANS)

Well, that’s it. You’re done. Let’s go.

(OBJECTS CLATTERING)

His interview. We did not finish.

(GROANS) You were gonna expose some lie he told, probably accuse him of being secretly Vichy.

Then, he would have threatened to deck you. Effort spared.

VITALE: Is he all right?

Guard dog, be useful, get him a chair.

A chair, yes. (SIGHS)

It is good to have a friend in this.

How long have we known each other?

The Canning Road Municipal Baths Murder.

Ah.

(CHUCKLES) I bullied my way into observing you as research for a book.

Wrote Poirot thinly veiled.

They saw through it, and you got famous.

Infamous.

Ah.

Excuse me. Thank you.

VITALE: Dottore.

Thank you.

Not for me. For you.

You want to interview me?

Leave him be.

You turned on a cold engine, took a few knocks to the head.

Sit this one out. Let morning come.

(WHOOSHES)

I almost died.

Here.

(SIGHS)

This palazzo,

it, uh, plays tricks.

It puts things in front of me again and again.

Um…

Apples.

A trick of the mind.

And then my mind wishes to tell me something.

Uh, how did you become a policeman?

I do wish you would let go of this.

It’s all right. I’ll answer.

(SIGHS)

My father was a cop.

Family business, basically.

Never knew anything else.

Yet, you retired early. Only last year.

Yeah.

The family business was no longer for me.

Perhaps never was.

I had the strength, but not the skin.

I drank when I couldn’t sleep and I never slept.

You were a policeman once.

You can understand.

Eventually, you get a case, and you know it is the last one you can stomach and still know your soul.

What case was it for you?

Why did you lie about never having been here before when clearly you had?

You knew precisely where to find the hidden telephone.

(THUNDER RUMBLING)

The case was such a spectacle.

The family deserved their privacy.

But you were the policeman on duty when Alicia Drake was found dead.

Yes.

I pulled her from the water.

Retired next day.

Soon to become my excellent bodyguard, the dragon at my gate, who not once permitted a soul to pass.

Yet only this morning, interrupted me to ask if I indeed knew the woman with the apples.

So many months, my peace undisturbed, you resolutely guarding me from curiosity or company, grown men cast into the canal.

Ariadne Oliver waltzes through.

Why?

Because you were in league.

The authoress and the bodyguard working with the medium, in the cahoot.

Feigning disdain, conspiring to bring me to this séance to make me a fool.

I’m very worried about you.

Details of Alicia Drake’s life and death provided by the policeman who was present at her death.

Details of me provided not by divination, but by letter from you.

And at the séance, with all eyes on the medium, your own hands were free. The secret accomplice to make me believe the impossible.

(DOOR SLAMS SHUT)

Mediums and magic.

Ghosts and gods.

Fame for the medium, a percentage to you, your literary standing restored.

“The woman who stumped Hercule Poirot.”

Not Joyce Reynolds but Ariadne Oliver.

(SIGHS)

(SINISTER MUSIC PLAYING)

(SMACKS LIPS)

Won’t you forgive me?

Apparently, only God can forgive.

Bit of a pickle then.

So, let us discover how you did it.

Baba?

A good touch.

The personal invitation to the fiancé?

Guaranteed drama with that one. Three flops, I needed a win.

We were friends.

You don’t have friends, you have admirers.

And you only have them because of me.

I wrote you up as a genius.

Why shouldn’t I use you to sell books?

Genius. You’re a fool. An ego.

A black cloud that lures death.

And you know it, too. That’s why you quit.

Is this why you killed Joyce Reynolds?

No. I did not.

Your book an instant legend.

Come on, you’re tap dancing now.

HERCULE: Working together…

We didn’t.

…to conceal murder!

DESDEMONA: The key, come quick!

There’s someone else in there!

Hurry up! Hurry up with it!

MAXIME: Poirot!

LEOPOLD: What happened? What’s wrong with him?

OLGA: I don’t know.

(OLGA SCREAMS)

(OLGA GASPS)

(SOMBER MUSIC PLAYING)

(LEOPOLD SOBBING)

(SNIFFLES)

LEOPOLD: Why did he have to be alone?

(LEOPOLD SOBBING)

ROWENA: This is the only way in.

You had the only key.

Not possible.

No.

No, I was right in front of you!

He was shouting at someone.

I hated him but I didn’t want him dead.

He’s got a child for Christ’s sakes.

Anyways, I was outside, trying to get in with them.

It’s true.

The doctor was alone in here.

Not alone.

Not in this house.

A doctor.

A nurse and a doctor, the Children’s Vendetta.

There is no other way in.

I can’t understand.

If this room wasn’t safe, nowhere is safe.

None of us are safe.

Nothing human could have done this.

“It is only for us to prove that these apparent ‘impossibilities’ are, in reality, not such.”

Come on, leave him.

Let the detective detect. He already knows.

He’s gonna come to it soon enough.

Go on. (BREATHING HEAVILY)

For once in your life, admit that you are up against something bigger than you.

(DOOR OPENS)

(FOOTSTEPS RECEDING)

OLGA: You asked.

(DOOR SHUTS)

You asked why I stayed while they summoned spirits.

Alicia was wasting away as she went mad.

Ms. Rowena stayed at her side day and night.

One day, I pleaded with her to take some rest.

I promised to keep watch.

She slept past nightfall.

It got to midnight.

I heard voices.

(GIRL SINGING IN ITALIAN FAINTLY IN DISTANCE)

And footsteps.

(FOOTSTEPS ECHOING)

Alicia was sleeping so soundly.

She must have woken after I left.

Gone to the balcony.

And you would beg her ghost’s forgiveness.

(SOBBING)

I loved that girl.

She died because I was stupid and I was scared.

(OLGA SOBBING)

(GIRL SINGING IN ITALIAN FAINTLY IN DISTANCE)

(BREATHING HEAVILY)

(GIRL SINGING IN ITALIAN FAINTLY IN DISTANCE)

YOUNG ALICIA’S VOICE: Why don’t you have the answer?

You always have the answer.

(ALICIA SCREAMING)

(SCREECHING)

MAXIME: I never should have come.

ARIADNE: Wait.

MAXIME: You should all leave this place and never look back.

(METAL RATTLING)

I will not wait to be next.

Tonight,

we are all afraid.

There have been two impossible murders.

Each murder appears committable only by phantom, as if the living have been killed by the dead.

“Appears”? You know something.

You know who killed my father?

I must consider Ms. Reynolds’ assistants.

Survivors, desperate and threatened.

The ex-police-commissario who has been in this house before, each time death occurs.

The authoress, determined, capable, murderously clever.

Our avenging angel, Olga Seminoff, so keen on justice as she prescribes it.

The former love full of rage for the doctor and only the fragment of a photograph to remember such happiness.

But…

There has been a third death, which explains the other two.

The murder of Alicia Drake committed by…

(SUSPENSEFUL MUSIC PLAYING)

…her mother.

Her murderer.

A mother who killed her own child, then killed twice more to hide her terrible sin.

ROWENA: How dare you!

After all I have suffered, to accuse me of harming my little girl!

Your little girl had grown.

You could not fathom losing her to anyone else.

In a rage, you tore up your garden of rainbow flowers.

Flowers? You’re too far gone now.

But you replanted your garden.

Not with a rainbow, but with a single color.

The single color that could give you back what you would not live without.

All night, I am hearing, seeing things which are not there.

I begin to believe in the impossible presence of ghosts.

When in fact I had been doped, drugged with an hallucinogenic poison.

I thought my cupboards were bare.

ARIADNE: Found your honey in the linen closet.

HERCULE: There is a poison in the flowering species of Rhododendron Ponticum.

Its highest concentration in the nectar that concentrates further when processed by bees into honey.

All this effort for a teaspoon of wildflower honey that we could buy for six lira.

That’s not wildflower.

I can’t place it.

They call it “Deli bal” in Türkiye, where it grows wild.

Where Rowena Drake traveled alone, angry.

(GASPS)

HERCULE: “Mad honey.” A mere teaspoon of this poison induces weakness, fever, hallucination.

(SOBBING)

HERCULE: You replanted it with that same toxic flower that would produce poison honey.

(BEES BUZZING)

I couldn’t do that. I wouldn’t.

Your daughter was not possessed.

She was poisoned by a mother who could not let her go.

Who lovingly spoonfed controlled doses of poison honey in her tea.

Keeping her just sick enough to prevent a reunion with her repentant love.

Weak, helpless like a child again.

Yours again.

Until a mistake.

Mrs. Seminoff watched Alicia while you slept at last.

Night fell and Olga grew frightened when, inevitably, Alicia woke…

(SOBBING)

…I am sure, disturbed again.

But what to do?

And not knowing the real truth, Olga Seminoff did what she believed that you would do, and served Alicia Drake calming tea sweetened with honey.

Too sweet.

I didn’t know.

I didn’t know. (SOBBING)

HERCULE: Alicia Drake did not run to her balcony to commit suicide.

She had overdosed on your poison.

And her heart had stopped in her sleep.

You returned from your rest to find her dead.

(GASPS)

And then…

(GASPING)

…you made your monstrous choice.

(ROWENA GRUNTS)

HERCULE: You made the mark of the Children’s Vendetta.

(ROWENA GRUNTS)

You cut her, you threw her into the canal, you made her a suicide.

A victim of legend. Of ghosts.

Your loveblind and incapable doctor found nothing to arouse suspicion at the inquest.

The police, predisposed to superstition, easily satisfied.

The poisoned jar left in the linen cupboard by the careless housekeeper.

You had got away with killing your own child, until Ms. Oliver drew my attention to something.

Where did all the money go?

I can’t afford to fix it.

HERCULE: There is usually only one answer.

Blackmail.

(ROWENA GASPS)

HERCULE: I suspect that someone had found you out.

And so you paid for their silence.

Again and again, you paid.

But now, with your fortune gone and this house unsalable at any price, you were desperate to get out from under the blackmailer’s thumb.

But who could it be?

Your obvious suspect was Doctor Ferrier.

Perhaps he was not so naive a witness.

Perhaps finally, he recognized the poison symptoms.

And then you received your letter from the unholy Ms. Reynolds, claiming messages from your lost daughter.

Too many intimate details known, teasing knowledge of your crime, her services offered at a heavy price.

Surely this was your blackmailer.

She had to be stopped to be safe.

Both Ms. Reynolds and Doctor Ferrier had to be stopped. But how?

The séance in a haunted house on Halloween.

The perfect opportunity to conceal the murder of those you suspected of blackmail.

Hiding behind superstition, legend, fear.

(CHIMING)

The clock struck.

(GRUNTING)

And so did you.

But in your haste, you mistake the wearer of the mask.

(GASPS)

HERCULE: Disposing of me, you find your target.

(JOYCE AND ROWENA GRUNTING)

I was with Mrs. Seminoff at midnight.

OLGA: She was.

We were together, I saw the time.

HERCULE: You saw the time on the clock in the music room, where she had asked you to wait.

A room, which is practically soundproof.

Which she herself had sealed.

And in which she had previously changed the time where you could not even hear the true midnight bell.

It read midnight when it was really…

After Joyce Reynolds’ death.

(METAL SCRAPING)

The damning evidence discarded with a magician’s touch.

VITALE: What about Ferrier?

She wasn’t anywhere near him.

HERCULE: Indeed, she made a show of the locked door, giving me the sole key.

But you would not kill Doctor Ferrier with a knife.

Your murder weapon would be a telephone.

The phone line from outside was dead, of course, because of the storm, but the internal line remained clear.

No telephone call would come from outside the house.

Only from inside.

HERCULE: She, in the dining room.

(TELEPHONE RINGING)

He, sealed in the music room.

ROWENA: I know you’ve been blackmailing me.

HERCULE: You confessed to him everything. To being the murderer of Joyce Reynolds.

Of staging your own daughter’s suicide.

It’s not possible.

HERCULE: And then you made your threat.

Do exactly as I tell you.

HERCULE: You threatened to kill his son…

No! No, let him go. Leave him.

…his only reason to live, if he did not do what you told him.

And what you told him to do was to take the knife.

(GRUNTS)

She… (SOBBING)

She killed my dad?

And Ms. Reynolds.

And Alicia.

ROWENA: No.

I would never hurt her.

It was an accident.

She was my whole life.

You poisoned her.

To protect her.

To control her!

To keep her safe from you.

(SUSPENSEFUL MUSIC PLAYING)

I couldn’t let her go.

She was mine.

(THUNDER RUMBLING)

(GASPS)

(ROWENA SCREAMING)

(SOMBER MUSIC PLAYING)

She was the best thing about me.

And if there is a soul, you gave hers peace.

HERCULE: Merci.

Dottore.

(IN ENGLISH) They will rule Ms. Drake a suicide.

Unless you would like to make a statement otherwise.

Can I at least see you safe home, before you turn me in for fraud?

In the daylight, neither appears necessary.

In the end, it is you protecting me, Dottore.

(FOOTSTEPS RECEDING)

OLGA: Come on then, Leopold.

Let me do the top button-up.

LEOPOLD: It’s fine, Miss Olga.

OLGA: Very smart.

LEOPOLD: I don’t need a coat.

OLGA: You’ll be cold.

LEOPOLD: I’m fine.

OLGA: I know it’s sunny, but it’s still cold.

That’s much better.

LEOPOLD: Miss Olga, I’m fine.

OLGA: Very handsome.

LEOPOLD: Thanks.

(OLGA CHUCKLES)

Madame.

He’ll live with me and Mr. Seminoff. And Harry.

We’ll mind him as our own.

Might insist on a bit more sunshine.

HERCULE: Mmmhmm.

You are a precocious boy who is perhaps ashamed at how much he likes attention.

I know something of this.

You must not blame yourself for anything that happened in this house.

(SOMBER MUSIC PLAYING)

Why would he do that?

But it’s all my fault.

You did not care for the money for yourself.

You wanted to help your father.

Dad couldn’t work.

I only used the money to pay for our bills.

I didn’t even know what to do with the rest.

Rowena Drake presumed the blackmailer was the fake medium or the family doctor, when it was neither.

Only the doctor’s son saw the truth.

It was obvious from Dad’s notes.

Mad honey poisoning, just like Mitridate from her opera.

The Poison King.

I read all about it in one of her books in the library.

And so, I tested the theory.

You sent a blackmail letter.

And another.

(HERCULE SIGHS)

Perhaps there is a use for this money in your mattress.

To make good of regret.

We survived before Ms. Reynolds.

We’ll do better than survive.

(DOOR OPENS)

I promise we’ll get to America. We will.

Come with us, you two.

To the police station?

Us, to home. You, to America. Missouri, I understand.

Passage for two. We can help with that. I think.

(DOOR SHUTS)

DESDEMONA: Thank you. (SOBS)

(DESDEMONA CHUCKLES)

NICHOLAS: Thank you, thank you so much.

OLGA: Leave some space for Leopold, please.

You solved the case.

But you had help, didn’t you?

You heard her.

Bonne chance, my friend.

Don’t worry, people who die in this house always come back.

I’ll see them again.

(BOAT ENGINE THRUMMING)

See you soon, Dad.

(SOMBER MUSIC CONTINUES PLAYING)

I won’t apologize. You’ve ruined my book.

Neither living nor proof. I have to rewrite the whole thing.

So long as it does not include my name.

I never want to hear your name again.

Just a house now. All debunked.

But you’ve got the look of a believer.

You did. You saw something.

I was under the influence.

My subconscious mind assembled facts ahead of the rational.

You saw.

You know.

I know only that we cannot hide from our ghosts.

Whether they are real or not, we must make our peace with them.

And live life.

Somehow.

And how will you live your life?

(DOOR UNLOCKS)

Monsieur Poirot?

Monsieur Poirot?

(LIVELY MUSIC PLAYING)

Your parents died one soon after the other.

Then, your brother.

Your trusted doctor is a beloved friend to the family.

Your brother was unmarried, as are you. No other relations.

Your family is not cursed.

I strongly suspect your brother added a codicil to his will naming your doctor as beneficiary should all members of your small family perish.

After which I strongly suspect he also murdered them, claiming natural causes at their deathbeds.

And your life is next in danger. You may wish to sit.

Please.

(WOMAN SINGING)

So, correct me if I am wrong, monsieur, your doctor was a family friend?

You would play together as children. This much is clear.

However, your mother was closer to you, right?

MAN: Yes.

(WOMAN CONTINUES SINGING)

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