Drama (Horror, Thriller)
Running Time: 110 minutes
Starring: John Cusack, Luke Evans, Brendan Gleeson, Alice Eve
Directed By: James McTeigue
Rating: 3.5 out of 10
Edgar Allen Poe and a Police officer team up to try and solve a rash of murders.
I have never wanted to own an old fashioned pair of gloves until directly after finishing this movie. I wanted to hold my right hand in the air in front of me and slowly remove it by the finger tips. I would then proceed to slap the person who recommended this film across the face with it. It was not the recommendation itself that upset me, but the terrible comparison of this film to the Sherlock Holmes starring Robert Downey Jr.. Movie critiquing is not an easy business, but this is no Sherlock Holmes. The Raven is the story of the writer Edgar Allen Poe. A madman is committing horrific murders across the city using Poe’s stories as a template. Poe joins forces with a Baltimore policeman (Fields) to try and stop these atrocities from happening.
19th century Baltimore sets the stage for a madman’s killings. The dark and dreary city is reminiscent of London, and the killings while impossibly sophisticated reek of Jack the Ripper. We are introduced to the alcoholic Poe quite early on and quickly you will dislike him. His pompous demeanor and arrogant attitude is compounded by the fact that he is so disagreeable to look at. Wanting Poe to succeed at anything will be far from the front of your mind. After a couple of horrific murders that are oddly staged. Poe is called in to consult with the police. He quickly realizes that the killer is using his literary work as a murderous template. Now I am embarrassed to admit it but besides the Raven I am unfamiliar with Poe’s writings. It is possible you may like this movie more if you have read Poe’s writings prior, but I highly doubt it as it seems incidental to the story. Truth be told I am sick of these formulaic types of movies involving cops/serial killers. The killer lays out elaborate clues and taunts the police that are chasing him. In this case Poe is one who has to unravel these inane clues before another body is found. Poe and detective Fields follow the killer all around the city. They follow him through sewers and churches, through parties and forests, and always they are one step behind. You will stare at the screen mildly bored as Poe stresses and laments on why this is happening to him. This film has a very straight to DVD quality to it and I am surprised it even made it to the big screen.
I am not sure why Nicolas Cage gets so much flack for his terrible films and yet John Cusack remains critique free. Is it because he was in movies that people loved when they were teens? I am not sure, but his resume for the last 10 years has been equally as bad as Cage’s. John Cusack plays Poe in this film and his performance seems over the top in some places and disinterested in others. He is hard to look at with his heavily Botoxed face and way too much makeup. He wants to come off as an intellectual but somehow with his snide comments, and downright freakish looks his character is not easy to root for. His supporting cast of Luke Evans, Brendan Gleeson, and Alice Eve had no chance of pulling this film up from its mediocre tale.
The film has the odd moment of blood but the R rating seems almost a waste. The first couple of killings set the stage for a slasher type movie but then inexplicably it turns into a slow drawn out mystery type of film. The film is not scary, the story is yawn inducing, the characters are thin and vapid, and the thrill of the chase is non-existent. Could Edgar Allen Poe’s life really have been this mundane? Anyways as the chase for the killer continues the viewer is taken for a helter skelter ride around the city that involves little enjoyment. When the killer is finally revealed and the story ends, all I could think of was Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law themselves couldn’t have saved this film.
Director James McTeigue’s career is on a sharp decline (V for Vendetta, Ninja Assassin). This film was terribly put together and paced. It is a horror in one instance and then a thriller the next. It is a drama the next instance and then a mystery the next. The characters are shallow and the story is worse. I liked the setting but that was all that kept my attention as Poe solved this ridiculous case. Truly this was a bizarre film with no clear direction.
I cannot recommend this film as the scariest thing in it was John Cusack’s wrinkle free face.
T Factor + If you like John Cusack as an actor then this could score higher on the rating scale.
T Factor – If you do not like gore than this could score lower on the rating scale.
If you liked this film reel recommendations: From Hell, The Watcher.