The Twenty-First Century

The Raven [2012]

“The Raven” is far from the disaster it’s been made out to be in some circles (for more info, check rotten tomatoes)…nor is it an unqualified success. It has enough production values and twists to keep you entertained for almost two hours. From what I’ve read so far, critics’ reaction was all over the map. One critic said “it’s a silly picture that never takes flight”, while another wrote that “John Cusack is excellent”. I fall somewhere in between those two extremes. I can only call the finished film a mixed bag, with exciting scenes followed by a couple of confusing stretches. But no movie so skillfully staged and featuring Edgar Allen Poe could or should be dismissed out of hand. If you have even the slightest curiosity about the famous writer, I’d encourage you to see it. “My writing has become the inspiration for an actual killer,” exclaims a washed up Poe (Cusack), as he realises that a series of gruesome murders are imitating the plots of his short stories. Soon enough, and after being dismissed as too obvious to be the murderer, Poe is drafted in by Detective Fields (Luke Evans) to help the investigation. In terms of plot, that’s all you need to know. However, and if you’re a Poe fan, you might have an idea of what to expect from this under-cooked chiller. What I liked about it is how brilliantly it incorporates elements from “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”, “The Pit and the Pendulum” (my personal favorite), “The Masque of the Red Death” and  “The Cask of Amontillado”. If nothing else, horror fans will enjoy spotting the references to Poe’s work. But references apart,”The Raven” is strictly a routine who done it, with Cusack solid (but not excellent) in the lead role. Director James McTeigue (“V for Vendetta”) generates a Gothic atmosphere and orchestrates a couple of gruesome death scenes that recall Johnny Depp’s “From Hell”. It could have been better with more suspense and a more credible finale, but overall, and despite its flaws, “The Raven” is enjoyable and never dull; it’s certainly worth the price of admission.

Rating: 2.5/4

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