For years I’ve been waiting for a biopic about the great horror author Edgar Allan Poe, but alas The Raven did not give it to me. What it gave me instead was a very original and entertaining piece of “historical” fluff.
Before I quoth The Raven, let me tell you some true horrors…
TRAILERS ATTACHED TO THE RAVEN:
The House At The End Of The Street- I swear all these horror movies are starting to look alike. They all have something to do with a house. : Sell My Stock!
Looper- If this trailer didn’t show us Joseph Gordon Levitt or Bruce Willis (as the same person?), I would think it was trash. Instead it’s one of the few movies I’m most interested in seeing this September. : I Will Be There Opening Night!
Dark Shadows- I don’t care if Johnny Depp is one more campy performance away from being like George Hamilton in the late 70′s/early 80′s. : I Will Be There Opening Night!
Savages- This trailer, no matter how great a cast Oliver Stone has assembled, looks like an utter mess. : Sell My Stock!
The Expendables 2- Stallone has pumped up the testosterone for this sequel. Bruce? Arnold? Chuck? Van Damme? All joining Statham, Jet Li & Lundgren? MANTASTIC! : I Will Be There Opening Night!
The Dictator- I liked the first teaser to this movie more than the new trailer. Having said that, Sacha Baron Cohen appears to have created another comedic triumph. : I Will Be There Opening Night!
NOW ON WITH THE MAIN EVENT…
Set in the 19th century, The Raven is a fictional account of the last few days of Edgar Allan Poe. A serial killer in Baltimore begins murdering victims using methods from Poe’s stories. Poe himself teams up with a young Baltimore detective to get inside the murder’s mind to try and stop more of his fictional works from becoming grizzly murders. As the hunt intensifies, Poe’s own love, Emily Hamilton, becomes a target for the killer.
While he would have been my 3rd choice to play Poe in a biopic (Johnny Depp and Robert Downey Jr. being my 1st & 2nd options), John Cusack gives a spirited performance as the original master of the macabre. He portrays Poe the way we all imagined him to be. Brilliant, disturbed and usually intoxicated.
There have been films that have tried this genre before; literary authors or their characters end up in fictional tales of mystery or murder. The League Of Extraordinary Gentleman and Time After Time, come to mind. The Raven has elements of From Hell and Seven to it, but it never feels like it’s copying from them.
The film’s killer uses Poe’s stories for each of his evil deeds and as a Poe fan, it was fun to see which tales would be used. His most famous works like Murders In The Rue Morgue, The Pit and the Pendulum, The Masque of the Red Death, The Cask of Amontillado are all used. Even his lesser known works like The Guilded Beetle, Metzengerstein, MS. In A Bottle are referenced. As for his actual Raven poem, it’s a running theme throughout the movie.
This movie isn’t for the squeamish, with a few scenes of violent deaths and rotting corpses, but the gore is never pushed in your face; like recent horror flicks such as the Saw franchise. I never found myself disgusted by it; mainly because it’s more of a who-done-it than anything else.
Director James McTeigue (V For Vendetta) does a wonderful job of giving the film that necessary gothic feel. 1849 Baltimore looked the way I always pictured it. I wish more films were like The Raven; with this time and setting, it didn’t sugarcoat the dark side.
The movie is not without flaws. Alice Eve is not the best actress for the role of Emily and her relationship with Cusack’s Poe never feels authentic. You do need to have a certain suspension of disbelief in order to enjoy The Raven. The plot almost caves in a few times and the last scene was from the superfluous factory, but the unique story coupled with an inspired performance by Cusack made me enjoy it all.
I give THE RAVEN ***1/2 out of ****.