During a village's Hallowe'en party, a young girl boasts of having witnessed a murder from years before. No one believes her tale until her body is found later on in the evening, drowned in the apple-bobbing bucket.
When Ariadne Oliver and her friend, Judith Butler, attend a children's Halloween party in the village of Woodleigh Common, a young girl named Joyce Reynolds boasts of having witnessed a murder from years before. Joyce's story is heard by all the party, including her strange brother Leopold, the impeccable hostess Rowena Drake, her bookish son Edmund, and the local Reverend Cottrell. Mrs Whittaker, the church organist, and Frances Drake, Rowena's feisty daughter, are dismissive of her story, but later that evening Joyce's lifeless body is discovered face-down in the apple-bobbing bucket. At Mrs Oliver's behest, Poirot travels down to Woodleigh Common to investigate the murder. Although the local police and Joyce's stepmother dismiss the dead girl's claim, Poirot takes Joyce's story seriously. Mrs Goodbody, a gossiping charwoman, tells Poirot there have been a number of suspicious deaths in the village in recent years which Joyce could indeed have witnessed, and that old curses still ...Written by
The soundtrack music over the closing credits is an arrangement of the Poirot theme incorporating a violin line strongly reminiscent of Saint-Saëns' 'Danse Macabre', which viewers may recognize as also being the theme music used for the series Jonathan Creek (1997). See more »
Poirot quotes Shakespeare, saying that "Methinks the lady doth protest too much". This is a common but an incorrect quote. The writing actually says: "The lady doth protest too much, methinks.". The word 'protest' doesn't mean denying anything, but the same as 'vowing' in the current English language. See more »
S12E02: Hallowe'en Party: Enjoyably atmospheric with good base of clues and engaging narrative
"I saw a murder once" says a young girl at a Halloween party – a young girl, it must be said, who clearly has not watched her way through 12 seasons of Poirot in the last few years like I have, or else she would know that such a statement is clearly going to get the attention of someone in the room, and not in a good way. True enough, it is not long before the party is brought to an abrupt end when the child is found drowned in a bowl of water used for dunking for apples. In attendance at the party, Ariadne Oliver calls for her old friend Poirot, who comes to investigate. With little to go on at the crime scene, and the police looking for a random vagrant of some sort, Poirot starts with the most logical question – who could possibly be the victim and perpetrator of the murder that the child claimed to have witnessed?
Another seasonal outing for Poirot, this time screened in late October, nearly 11 months after the previous "episode". The opening did make me wonder if the "event" nature of it would overshadow the quality of the film as could be a risk, and seeing some familiar names in the credits did not dissuade me of this worry, along with the gaudy decorations. Actually though, it sets up an oddly dark story, which draws on the sense of evil being supernatural, but yet also perfectly human. The comedic air at the start gives way to a children's game (with musical chanting similar to that used in other episodes thus far) which is oddly creepy and leads to quite a disturbing death in that it is a child – I do not remember for sure, but I think this is the first in the series thus far. This murder is done in such a way that it opens up the story in the way fans of the series will recognize – that the motive is not just about that moment, but about the past, and thus Poirot has to dig back for skeletons to get to the truth. Although familiar as a device, this is done very well here and I enjoyed that I felt engaged with it throughout. Part of this was perhaps that the clues were a bit more obvious than usual (or I am used to their style?) so I did have my suspect for the second half, even though I was nowhere near the actual solution.
The solution comes and is satisfying enough, and well delivered even if the murderer is named and then broken down, which I find less dramatic than doing it the other way around. The production is very nicely mounted whether it be the party, the curiosities of the suspects, or the general production values of locations (some great ones) or the usual great attention to detail and class of delivery. The cast is led by Suchet on form as ever. Although Wanamaker is a good sidekick, she is mostly in her bed and sidelined here – not bringing a lot to the table. The guest cast are mostly very good, with some famous faces in there, and all doing enough to feed the mystery. The production values are as good as ever, and it even made the faux-eerie atmosphere work. All told an enjoyable outing, with a good base of clues and an engagingly delivered narrative, even if it is not without some weakness.
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