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The Raven

The Raven: Suspense-less Thriller Based on Edgar Allen Poe’s Work

  • Alice EveJohn Cusack...
  • HorrorThriller
  • James McTeigue
reviewed by
Yasmin Shehab
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The Raven: Suspense-less Thriller Based on Edgar Allen Poe’s Work

A
deranged groupie has taken Edgar Allen Poe’s (Cusack) literature a little bit
too literally. He goes on a killing spree using different murders from Poe’s
stories as inspiration, where each murder contains a clue to the next. The
murderer starts improvising though and kidnaps Poe’s girlfriend, Emily (Eve),
to draw the author closer in; taunting him. The murderer orders Poe to write a
story and publish it in the newspaper where he works, based on the murderous actions.
In the story, Poe both immortalizes the killer and shapes his future actions. 

This is a film with a decent concept that just doesn’t work out. Making a
murder-mystery out of bits of Poe’s literary tales could have been pretty
interesting, but it basically boils down to us hopping from
one gruesome murder to the next. There isn’t even much connecting one murder
with the next. Also, by having Poe translate the murderer’s escapades into
fiction the film has a very strong going-through-the-motions vibe, killing any
sense of suspense or tension. 

The
characters aren’t much better either. Cusack’s character of Poe is a
depressed alcoholic with a raging ego and an insufferable sense of superiority
– basically a cliché of an artist. Eve’s character Emily is pretty and,
unfortunately, doesn’t get much of a chance to transcend that trait seeing as
she’s stuck in a box for most of the film. Also, Poe is at least double her age
and is probably old enough to be her father. Their relationship is kind of
creepy and you wouldn’t be wrong in completely empathizing with Emily’s father
who does his best to keep them away from each other. Luke Evans plays Detective
Fields, the officer in charge of the investigation and the man who first makes
the connection between the murders and Poe’s stories. He does a decent job not
least because he isn’t saddled with the ‘artistic,’ heavy-on-the-synonyms
dialogue that Cusack has to deal with.

At
the very least, the film looks good even though it’s not as extravagant as other period films. It has a very Gothic feel with its bleak palette and reams
of fog unfurling everywhere, which does manage to give the film a vaguely
foreboding feel. The murder scenes are pretty gory, the costumes look good and are
sufficiently showcased in the scene of a ball.

The
film is disappointing on two levels: it squandered a cool concept and it ended
up a completely by-the-numbers thriller.

Like This? Try

Anonymous, My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done, Sherlock Holmes

360 Tip

Jeremy Renner was originally slated to play Detective Fields but he passed on the job and decided to do Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol instead. 

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