The Raven – The Review
by Jessica Dwyer
When I had heard the casting of John Cusack as my beloved Poe and the premise for The Raven (a fictional serial killer action flick) I wasn’t too thrilled. I’d hoped for a film discussing Poe’s actual life which itself was interesting enough and filled with more tragedy and hardship than most Shakespeare epics can hold.
But I do love Poe and after getting a chance to talk to Cusack about the film as well as the director, and hearing the actor talk about how much he himself loved the writer and his life and works…I was willing to give it a shot. John Cusack is a very smart and talented man who knows more than a little about the literary world. And so as I said, I gave it a shot.
What I got was an uneven not quite horror movie. More of an extra red mystery thriller actually. There have been comparisons to Saw but that franchise had a reason for the murders. Where The Raven fails is the fact that there is no actual reason for what is happening, and that truly comes to be a problem at the end of the film. The ending itself is the weakest part of the entire movie.
Poe’s involvement in the investigation of the serial killer whom he has inspired is far fetched. He doesn’t really seem to be helping as much as the man who created the modern mystery should be. In fact it seems his contributions are more by luck. The film focuses on his final days alive, when in reality it would have made more sense for this to happen before his writing some of those mysteries so we could see Poe showing the intellect that gave birth to those tales. But then you wouldn’t have a killer being inspired by his work…so it would be a different sort of film. Ah…logistics.
In the end, The Raven only slightly gets off the ground due to not enough meat for the audience to chew. Cusack does a great job as Poe. I truly enjoyed his performance which made me glad I watched the film. Alice Eve was good as well, playing Poe’s lady love Emily Hamilton who he’s desperate to save. Truly the performances weren’t the issue here, it was the script and the story itself.
The Raven should be re-titled The Rental. If you are a Poe fan its a decent enough film, but it could have been much, much more.