Technically it’s a Mystery /Thriller, but there’s enough horror in this film to talk about it. My initial reaction when The Raven first came out in 2012 was a general sense of “Meh” and after finally getting around to watching it that feeling remains the same. It’s a fictional account of the last days of Edgar Allan Poe, who died under very strange and interesting circumstances. So some parts of The Raven are based on actual aspects of his death, while other parts are simply ignored entirely or re-invented.
After a grisly murder of two women is discovered by Baltimore police, Detective Emmett Feilds (Luke Evans) recruits the aid of author Edgar Allen Poe (John Cusack). The murders mirror those in one of Poe’s stories “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”. While Feilds questions Poe about the murders, the police find another victim, this one killed via “The Pit and the Pendulum”. At the new murder the killer leaves a clue in the form of a red mask, referencing “The Masque of Red Death”. While this is all happening Poe is always running off to see Emily Hamilton (Alice Eve) who’s father, Charles Hampton (Brendan Gleeson) doesn’t approve of and strong dislikes Poe. At the ball the killer kidnaps Emily and leaves a note for Poe. He must write and publish another story, something he hasn’t done for some time or he will kill Emily. Over the next series of murders the killer leaves clues for Poe and Feilds to find Emily. But the clock is ticking…
Ok, I’m conflicted about this film. There are some great moments that I found wonderful. But the rest of the movie just kind of drags down those good parts. For every minute of screen time of Emily being trapped, buried alive and going kind of crazy. We get ten of Poe and Feilds arguing or lackluster character development. That’s what the movie should have been about, Emily in that box waiting for rescue/rescuing herself. I have to just say Alice Eve really caught me off guard. When I first saw her I would have never guessed she would be the one character I cared about. For me personally, Alice Eve carried this movie.
Not to say the other actors were bad, it’s just really unbalanced. The actors energy never lines up and the whole thing just feels off. The only actor who I didn’t care for was actually John Cusack and I’m a fan. He just didn’t feel like Poe to me, he felt like a dude being an asshole. I never really felt depression, alcoholism or addiction when I saw him and that’s basically the real Edgar Allen Poe in a nutshell. But as John Cusack has given me bother “Identity” and “1408”, I’m going to quit complaining.
The sets, costumes, music… everything on the production level basically are amazing. Period pieces are really hit and miss with me.So I was pleasantly surprised when I really got into it here. The film gets the dark Gothic feel and runs with it. Well, walks at least.
Final thoughts, …meh? I don’t feel I was lessened by watching this movie. But conversely do I feel that it has enriched me in any real way. All the twists are weak as is that reveal, hampering the film greatly. Would I recommend this film fans of Poe? Absolutely not. But if you like John Cusack or want to see Alice Eve own this movie then I would. The Raven gets a depressing 5/10.