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The Raven Review

The Raven (15)

Reviewed by Rachel Geeson

Score: 2/5

If you were expecting a spine tingling crime thriller when seeing The Raven you may be disappointed.

No one knows what happened to Edgar Allan Poe during his final days but he was found delirious and incoherent in Baltimore, before being taken to hospital where he died. The Raven shows a fictionalized account of the last four days of his life, in which the poet and author pursues a serial killer whose murders have similarities in Poe’s stories.

In the 19th century, John Cusack plays Edgar Allan Poe, the world famous and renowned poet, whose livelihood is dependent on the income in which he receives for his condescending reviews that he writes for The Baltimore Times.  Although he is still a genius wordsmith, his drinking habit and struggle for inspiration have combined to all but kill his literary career.  He finds himself in the local drinking den branding the people stupid for not recognizing him or his great works.

When a mother and daughter are found dead in a locked room, Detective Emmet Fields (Luke Evans) recognizes elements of the crime from Poe’s story and he recruits Poe to help him with the investigation.

As another person is found dead in similarly gruesome circumstances, it becomes apparent that a serial killer is on the loose – a killer who promptly begins playing cat and mouse with the investigative team. And when Poe’s love Emily (Alice Eve) gets kidnapped, it’s a race against time to trace the killer and save her life.

The Raven has an interesting mystery about it, as it’s a whodunit situation for the audience which keeps them guessing who is committing the crimes. And when we discover the identity of the murderer it is an anticlimax, Cusack’s performance of Poe’s final moments along with the great supporting cast hold up the audience’s interest.

The murder scenes are a mix between older versions of CSI episodes with the grisly murder scenes. However when you attempt to mix in similarities to the Saw franchise then you’re in trouble as they just don’t work like they should do, and for me they just appeared really fake, especially in the explicit gory scene where a bound victim is cleaved by a giant pendulum blade.

The film is directed by James McTeigue. His directorial style is of a heightened sensibility, everything is magnificent and extravagant in a lot of ways. Although there’s plenty in the film that is ridiculous as Poe and Fields frequently miss catching the perpetrator by inches or seconds, however they do still stick to the stereotypes of horror films such as lots of swooshing dark cloaks, low key lighting and misty locations. The audience can easily lose emotional and intellectual engagement with the story and some of the parts just seem over the top.

John Cusack has a watchable screen presence. He has a wide-eyed manic nature and is a very good representation of his character of Poe.  Scattered throughout the rest of the film are a diverse collection of actors, from the surprisingly good Luke Evans (last seen in The Three Musketeers blockbuster and Immortals, a fantasy film) as the main detective to the protective father of Poe’s love interest played by Brendan Gleeson.

The Raven is a suspenseful and tensely paced film but overall I had to give it a low score out of five. Although it isn’t really a scary attention-grabbing film, I still recommend you to see the film so you can judge for yourselves whether or not this “thriller” is for you.

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Categories: Film Reviews
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