Good heavens, there was such an uproar of Poe purists over such an amusingly silly thriller! You’d think someone’s grandmother’s honor was being sullied by the very existence of The Raven — even though there’s absolutely no reason to believe that the film is intended in any way to be anything other than a fictional work featuring a real person. This is neither a biopic, nor a revisionist hoo-ha like last year’s Anonymous. What we have here is John Cusack (with an un-Poelike goatee) as Poe during the last few days of his life. This is a down-at-the-heels alcoholic, drug-addicted Poe (reasonably true), but with his wit and faculties intact, and with a pretty young sweetheart, Emily Hamilton (Alice Eve), and her disapproving papa (Brendan Gleeson). A serial killer has started a wave of murders that are based on murders in Poe’s stories, causing the police to call him in to solve the crimes. It soon becomes obvious that the killer is playing a demented game with Poe, one that, not surprisingly, puts the writer’s detecting skills to the test to save the life of Emily. Some of it works well. Some of it doesn’t work so well. On the plus side is Cusack’s pleasant performance. He may not be an authentic Poe, but he’s an enjoyable one. The recreations of Poe’s stories are generally clever. What doesn’t come off very well is the mystery. By the time the film gets around to revealing who the murderer is, the probability of you still caring seems very small. Even more slight is the idea that the identity will satisfy you. It’s so out of left field, so preposterous, and such an otherwise minor character. But all in all, the movie’s rather fun, assuming you don’t take it seriously.
Director: James McTeigue
Writer: Ben Livingston and Hannah Shakespeare
Producer: Jesus Martinez Ascencio, Mark D. Evans, Trevor Macy and Aaron Ryder
Cast: John Cusack, Luke Evans, Alice Eve, Brendan Gleeson and Oliver Jackson-Cohen