Starring: John Cusack, Luke Evans, Alice Eve
Director: James McTeigue
A madman is on the loose in 19th century Baltimore, using the works of Poe as inspiration for a spree of grisly murders.
It’s 1849 in Baltimore a time when the streets were made of cobblestone, fog enveloped the land and everything was just a bit drearier than it is today. A master poet named Edgar Allen Poe (John Cusack) has seen his best years and his best work pass him by. Now a lowly critic the worst profession imaginable for a man who used to create art, now relegated to delivering his opinion on those that are the creators (The irony was not lost on those that attended the press screening). Poe’s mercurial tongue is now utilized to deliver his disdain for the likes of Longfellow and all others who are not fit to hold his Quill. Destitute with a penchant for the not so occasional brandy snifter, Poe is put to the test when a deranged mad man starts a maniacal murdering spree based solely on the written words of Poe. When his fiancée Emily (Alice Eve) is abducted, Poe must unite with Detective Fields (Up and comer Luke Evans Zeus from The Immortals) to track down the killer before Emily becomes a footnote in one of Poe’s tales.
Much has been said about Poe that he is the Master of Macabre, the Grandfather of Goth he was essentially the Steven King of his time, creating works that still inspire to this day. Cusack brings a dark charm that I didn’t know he possessed. I have seen many a Cusack film and have yet to see him put forth such a display of layered range. Cusack’s Poe is haunted, disturbed and tortured by his past, displaying a level of Melancholia and sadness with an acerbic wit that I never envisioned he had. As Poe’s Love interest Emily, Alice Eve (in her second consecutive role as an Emily the last being in ATM) Delivers a stellar performance. For the first time in ages someone gets kidnapped without losing their grip on sanity. To see Emily locked in a coffin and told to be quiet or she would die and have her get calm and show the fear in her eyes, delivering a single tear, was great work. Luke Evans showed why his star is on the rise delivering a rock solid portrayal of Detective Fields, Accents are not the easiest to pull off and you would have no idea that he is a Welshman.
The Raven isn’t a horror fest but more of a brooding thriller with a few scenes of Gore. Which brings me to my biggest issue, Computer Generated Blood, It doesn’t look real and while there is a time and place for it I am more of a purist as gorehound. Just like how literature is an art form so are special effects. While the Pit and the Pendulum scene utilized an extensive amount of CGI blood I found the throat slash near the end to be visually more powerful. The Raven is a solid thriller and it’s a joy to watch Cusack get put through the paces as Poe. I didn’t feel invested enough in the motive of the killer nor in the CGI blood to really push it to the next level.
Grade – 86