What would Edgar Allan Poe be doing if he were alive today? Clawing at the inside of his coffin, desperate to get at the people who used and abused his ingenious, diabolical tales as the basis for the pile of cinematic bird poo that is “The Raven.”
Like carrion feeders themselves, the filmmakers peck and gnash at Poe's stories to fill out a plot that sounds sort of cool in concept — a serial killer using the author's fiction as a blueprint for ghastly murders — but is featherheaded in execution.
John Cusack makes a terrible Poe, the somber role as one of literature's great tortured souls spotlighting his limitations as an actor. With his little goatee and his black cape, Cusack vaguely looks the part, but he's a lightweight — voice too whiny, mannerisms too exaggerated, cadence too reedy to bring alive the movie's frequent passages of Poe's lyrical writing.
Other than some stylishly gothic visuals crafted by director James McTeigue (“V for Vendetta”), “The Raven” is an unimaginative mess whose superficial appropriations of Poe's devilish yarns are deeply
An introductory sequence establishes Cusack's Poe as a garden-
Screenwriters Hannah Shakespeare and Ben Livingston then pull a “Saw” on Poe, taking that modern torture-porn franchise's idea of savage gamesmanship by a serial killer and imposing it on poor Edgar.
Baltimore police detective Emmett Fields (Luke Evans) enlists Poe to consult on a double homicide after recognizing it as a copycat of the
“The Raven” reinforces how fiendishly clever Poe was. The premises of his stories still resonate as a source of our modern collective nightmares — and as an endless source for Hollywood to plagiarize in contemporary horror tales.
However, rather than taking Poe's ideas and running wild, the filmmakers wring nothing more than a few moments of gore from them. They add no suspense or scares to Poe's images, apply no originality to his plot devices.
This is just a bore; quoth the raven, “Go see something else.”
— David Germain, AP Movie Writer
Starring: John Cusack, Alice Eve, Luke Evans, Brendan Gleeson. (Bloody violence and grisly images)
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