Edgar Allan Poe is without a doubt the father of the American horror genre and modern horror as a whole. His dark dreams of insanity have fueled our nightmares for years, and worked as the inspiration for other great writers to come. From H.P. Lovecraft, to Stephen King, most beloved horror fiction today can trace its ancestry back to the stories and poems of Poe. So you would think a fictional film about this master of the macabre would naturally be, well, macabre. Sadly, you would be wrong. At least if said movie is the 2012 mystery/thriller The Raven.
Admittedly, I wasn't expecting very much from the movie in the first place. It's pretty clear that it's just the first in what's likely to be a long line of films trying to cash in on the recent popularity of movies like Sherlock Holmes and books like Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter. Movies and books, in other words, that tell fun stories about our favorite historical figures (both real and imagined). In this case, the result is a half-baked, rushed, mediocre film.
The premise goes like this: A madman starts enacting famous death scenes from Edgar Allan Poe's most gruesome stories. With no clue where to start, and running out of time before the killer strikes again, young Baltimore detective, Fields, (Luke Evans) seeks the assistance of Poe to help solve the case.
The idea is actually pretty cool, and honestly I didn't hate this movie, I was just hoping for more. The movie isn't so much bad as it is disappointing. The first disappointment being the actor chosen to play Poe -- John Cusack. I don't know about you, but to me, Cusack is not the image that comes to mind when I think of the master of the macabre. While he plays it as well as he can, the entire role felt awkward and stilted. Poe never feels real, and he comes off as mildly skeevy. I'm sorry, but it has to be said, Cusack had no business going near that much eyeliner (which, let's be fair, would look strange on any actor. . .still not sure what they were going for with that). I just got this cocky pedophile vibe from the guy. Maybe Poe actually had that vibe about him, but it makes for a bad character. Sadly, Poe was the only character I didn't like.
|This is pretty much the expression Poe carries throughout the entire film. . .I'm not kidding.|
The second disappointment was all the CG! There wasn't a single REAL freaking raven in this entire movie. Just computer generated ravens. Like gore? This film has loads, but that too is all CG. Apparently the director couldn't be bothered to make up a few batches of fake blood. Or to cook up some decent CG effects. The result is a lot like spotting the zipper running down the monster's back -- it jars you out of the false sense of reality the film works so hard to create.
Worst of all is that the movie just wasn't all that dark. For a movie about the father of modern horror, there's nothing very horrific outside of a few bloody corpses. Unless you count John Cusack in eyeliner as horrific. . .and I sorta do.
In spite of its shortcomings, The Raven does do well at weaving the truth of what we know about Poe's life with the fictional mystery. You get the feeling that, maybe -- just maybe -- this could have really happened. It's also a pretty good mystery. Nothing worth shouting about, but pretty good.
Overall the movie was disappointing, but entertaining. It probably won't satisfy hardcore Edgar Allan Poe fans or the most dedicated horror movie fan. If you're looking for a decent popcorn flick, The Raven will do just fine.
|Overall Score: 2 1/2 out of 5|