The Raven

Ashley Johnson

A sharp and witty sense of humor and a grisly production style make this gothic thriller a great terror to watch. It may be rather preposterous to fathom the movies scenario, but it’s also a grippingly complex mystery that is populated by terrific actors that accentuate the movie very well.

The story begins in the weeks before author Edgar Allan Poe’s (John Cusack) inexplicable death in 1849. Poe finds himself at the center of a series of murders in which a killer is recreating his stories in grotesque scenarios around Baltimore. Detective Fields (Luke Evans) asks Poe to assist within the case, but he’s too distracted by his girlfriend Emily (Alice Eve), whose harsh father (Brendan Gleeson) refuses the couple to marry. As the murders get increasingly personal for Poe, he realizes that his own fate is intertwined with the fiendishly clever killer, whoever he or she may be.

Though the events within and surrounding the movie are so fictionalized that by having the central character as Edgar Allan Poe is almost irrelevant. This really doesn’t matter when the filmmakers work so diligently gross us out. Every murderous scenario is more grisly than the last, and John Cusack is terrific as Poe, a man horrified that his own imagination is being used in such a ghastly way.

The other downside present is that because filmmakers are having so much fun with the energetic action and suspense of the story line, they never bother to explore the intriguing issue of a horror writer’s creative process. Instead, the film’s a series of different settings pieced together erratically and all while involving confusing attacks and chases saturated with period detail.

Fortunately the actors have plenty of space to add sarcastic and ironic wit; this of course creates tension between them that makes the film more entertaining than it has to be. The murderous mystery resolves in a way that isn’t hugely satisfying, but the lively tone never lets up, even as things become increasingly grim. We know from history and because the movie is told as an extended flashback that the movie will end with Poe’s death. Though the whodunit isn’t hugely convincing as an explanation for real-world events, it’s a thoroughly entertaining movie plot.

All and all this movie is a must see; it has action, suspense, and murder all surrounded by one of Americas greatest literary writers.  It is a movie that though there are some issues it is one that gives great gusto and depth to its audience and always keeps them on the edge of their seat.