I was looking forward to seeing The Raven, a dark thriller starring John Cusack. Edgar Allan Poe, a Gothic atmosphere, murder, mystery, and relatively good cast, what could go wrong? Luckily for us, nothing went wrong, so we got ourselves a good “who done it” mystery movie. The only problem is once you have seen it and you know the story, there is no need to go back and see it again. I guess with this genre that is something that has to happen. However, considering just how potent the themes are here I feel there was a lot of wasted potential.
The cinematography along with camera-work was good, leaning towards French productions. This can be clearly seen in the pendulum scene (probably the best in the movie). With the whole dark Poe-Gothic vibe there was enough room for more impressive scenes, but I guess then the story would be a bit compromised. Nevertheless, what’s done is done. And there’s still a tone of pretty great cinematic scenes. The Raven was shot in Hungary and Spain along with the good old US of A, so most of the locations look very authentic.
A lot of people complained about John Cusack as Poe but he did a decent job. I guess he was channeling his inner Nic Cage with a bit of a melodramatic performance. If nothing else he was prettier than him. And while he might be the biggest name here, we shouldn’t forget about Luke Evans and beautiful Alice Eve. Too bad we didn’t get to see more of Brendan Gleeson, he’s always a hoot.
Edgar Allan Poe is a misunderstood poet and critic working for the local newspaper. He spends his days drinking and writing dark and grizzly poems and short stories. Desperately in love with Emily Hamilton, daughter of Captain Hamilton, one of the wealthiest men in the town, Poe is not having a good time. Of course, Captain does not approve their love, so they have to see each other secretly. At the same time, Detective Emmett Fields starts investigating a grisly murder when he realizes that it resembles one of Poe’s works. So he asks for his assistance in solving this crime.
The Raven is a murder mystery movie with a twist. That twist is the man himself, Edgar Allan Poe, whom we will get to know quite well. As someone who enjoys his nihilism, drinking, and all the other stuff that comes with it, I liked his persona here. However, you should know that this is not a biopic and that the entire story is made up. The real story is much darker and tragic. This is not a masterpiece that you’ll keep coming back to but it’s perfect for one viewing.
If you want to continue in the same direction, I do recommend you check out The Woman in Black and Sleepy Hollow. Stonehearst Asylum or Eliza Graves but be a bit more commercial but it’s still worth a watch. Finally, I also must mention Le Pacte des Loups, a French blend of action, adventure and horror that fits in nicely with the rest of the recommendations.
Director: James McTeigue
Writers: Hannah Shakespeare, Ben Livingston
Cast: John Cusack, Luke Evans, Alice Eve, Brendan Gleeson, Kevin McNally, Oliver Jackson-Cohen
Fun Facts: Joaquin Phoenix was at one point in negotiations to star in the project together with Jeremy Renner. Phoenix would have played Poe to Renner’s police inspector Fields, but the deal fell through when Renner decided to do Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.