The newest film from director James McTeigue (“V for Vendetta”, “The Matrix”) was released on Friday, April 27. Writers Ben Livingston and Hanna Shakespeare create a fictional account based loosely upon the life of Edgar Allan Poe and the uncertainty surrounding his death in 1849. “The Raven” follows the unpopular Poe, played by John Cusack (“Hot Tub Time Machine”, “High Fidelity”), who is on the hunt to catch a psychopath killer.
Inspector Emmet Fields recruits the drunk and broke Poe to catch a serial killer who uses Poe’s stories and poems as inspiration. Many of the horrifying scenes are based upon a Poe story or poem. The film references material such as “The Pit and the Pendulum,” “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt” and others.
Woven into the plot is a standard love story between Poe and Emily Hamilton, played by Alice Eve, daughter of a Baltimore highbrow who deplores Poe. When the murderer kidnaps Emily and threatens to kill her, Poe becomes desperately invested. He must follow the killer’s demands by capturing the frightening story in a fictional tale to be published in the Baltimore newspaper. Inspector Fields and Poe follow the clues cleverly assembled by the murderer to find Emily and end the killings.
Rated R, the 111-minute mystery is nothing short of what one would assume a Poe story aught to be: bloody. This is one thriller that is too gruesome for the faint of heart. Scenes include slit throats, hacked wrists and carved flesh. McTeigue’s effective filming techniques and employment of light and dark add to the gripping nature of the film.
Cusack delivers a believably sinister performance in “The Raven”. He brings to life a quick-witted Poe that is wonderfully sharp with an insult. Unfortunately, the role of Inspector Fields, played by Luke Evans, is less delightful. Evans, to no fault of his own, has multiple awkward lines, but his acting is, at times, unconvincing and somewhat laughable.
The suspense and gore of the film is coupled with an intelligent, mysterious plotline that keeps viewers entertained until the very end. It seems only fitting to have Poe, the author of the first mystery, placed inside the mystery thriller that is “The Raven”.