Home > The Raven - 5 > The Raven – 5

The Raven – 5

Director – James McTeigue

Cast – John Cusack, Luke Evans, Alice Eve, Brendan Gleeson, Kevin McNally, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Jimmy Yuill, Sam Hazeldine

Release Year – 2012

Reviewed by John of the Dead

I remember being pretty stoked when I first saw the trailer for this film due to my immense love for Edgar Allen Poe and what he did for the horror genre, as well as my enjoyment of most adaptations of his work. The atmosphere looked dark and it seemed there would be a good amount of horror in this piece, but after viewing this effort I can say that I expected to much. The story comes poorly written and the direction was off for most of the film, and while this piece had some early moments of greatness it quickly faltered under its weak script and the director’s inability to make up for that.

It’s the 19th century, and a series of gruesome murders leave writer/poet Edgar Allen Poe (John Cusack) wanted by the police, not as a suspect…but as a consultant. The killer is using Poe’s stories of murder as inspiration for each killing, and young Baltimore Det. Fields (Luke Evans) is in dire need of Poe’s assistance to get inside the killer’s mind and predict the next murder in a series of murders that will eventually hit very close to Poe himself.

I would not be very surprised to hear that everyone who saw the trailer or knew of this film was interested in watching it as it provides us with one of the few (possibly the only) fictional adaptations of Poe’s work. We have all seen or heard of the adaptations of his stories The Black Cat, The Tell-Tale Heart, The Masque of the Red Death, etc., but I had never before seen a film that employed Poe himself in such a manner, and I applaud the film’s writers, Ben Livingston and Hannah Shakespeare (not joking) for giving us such a cool storyline. The first act is great and very engaging, introducing us to the crafty killer’s work and also to the bumbling and ever-drunk Edgar Allen Poe as he stumbles across Baltimore in search of booze and a publisher to save his broke arse. Of course it does not take long before Poe is working with Det. Fields to decipher the murders and acquire the killer’s motive, and as each kill hits closer and closer to home it only becomes extremely obvious that he will lose someone close to him to the killer. Call it a spoiler if you want, but this story was/is extremely predictable…and that is where the faults begin. I must say that I applaud this story for keeping me interested in what was going on for 111 minutes, but that does not mean I enjoyed all of them. After the first act the film began falling downhill, losing its “horror” feel and coming off more of a thriller than anything, which I did not necessarily mind given there was still an element of horror but it definitely lost the brash feel it had during the first act. After that we are given the usual Hollywood cliches regarding character usage and dialogue, with Poe being written as a bumbling drunk that in my opinion should leave a poor and insulting taste in the mouths of Poe fans. Thankfully Poe was not the worst of the characters, with Det. Fields and pretty much everyone else involved coming off much worse than he was. Several plot hole arise before the closing sequence, which in itself was quite cheep and easily written off as a “climax” for this film that could have really given us an incredible watch thanks to its storyline, but instead fell into mediocrity at best.

When I heard that James McTeigue would direct this piece I felt assured that this flick was going to rock, but McTeigue failed to live up to his previous works like V For Vendetta and I guess Ninja Assassin. His atmosphere was fantastic – dark, gloomy, and filled with the dread set up during the opening sequence. This helped provide some fair tension here and there, as did the short bouts of gory goodness that came and went most likely quicker then the script was written. His execution of the horror was good enough, but sadly it was not enough to save this piece from the poor story surrounding it. To make matters worse we were given some unfavorable performances from our leading actors, John Cusack and Luke Evans. I found Luke Evans to be much worse as every scene involving his frustration felt forced and completely unneccesary in how he over-acted, and Cusack also fell victim to the same demise. I really wish the filmmakers and Cusack would have executed Poe differently, or simply case someone more appropriate like Robert Downey Jr. or Johnny Depp and not giving us someone who was obviously cast in a role he could not execute, in a film that should have been much better.

Overall, The Raven starts off great but quickly succumbs to mediocrity when its poor screenplay and mediocre direction kick in and leave the viewer expecting more from what should have been an incredible story.

Rating: 5/10

  1. May 2, 2012 at 10:42 pm

    Ah man-I really wanted to see this too.

    • May 3, 2012 at 2:20 am

      You may like it as it does have some positive elements, but I believe this is best reserved for discount theaters or a DVD rental.

      • May 7, 2012 at 10:04 am

        cool thanks

  2. May 4, 2012 at 11:38 am

    I knew this as going to disappoint.

    • May 4, 2012 at 12:14 pm

      I wish it didn’t, such a cool story overall.

  3. May 17, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    Noooo! I was so hoping to see a positive review on this from you, because so far you seem to nail it on the head. I guess I will be renting this instead of paying 10 bucks to see it on the big screen. I thought John Cusack would be a good Poe. Depp or Downey Jr might work, and I was thinking Edward Norton as well. Have you reviewed any of the movies based on Poe’s stories-Masque of the Red Death would be an interesting one, I think. I haven’t seen it just read it.

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