The Raven DVD Review

The Raven DVD Review

The Raven takes us to 19th century Baltimore where horror writer Edgar Allan Poe is striving for recognition and a means to survive. When a murderer begins killing people in the exact method that Poe uses in his stories, baffled detectives recruit Poe to help them find the killer.

The successful reboot of the Sherlock Holmes series can be seen as a probable catalyst for the creation of The Raven. In fact, one could be forgiven for thinking that they were watching a third instalment of Guy Richie’s enjoyable detective romp, as The Raven begins in a dark ominous 19th century Baltimore. Unfortunately this is not a compliment. Where the Sherlock Holmes series breathes life into a well known fictional character, The Raven takes an actual person and fictionalises their life. Perhaps with stronger historical research this could have worked well, instead the viewer is left trying to forget that the lead character was a real person in history, so that they can enjoy the fast paced romp that is being played out on screen. The Raven does provide moments of excitement and unexpected horror but not enough to sustain it, as it’s denouncement of the mystery is unsatisfactory and disappointing.

John Cusack most certainly saves it from being a complete sorry mess with his spirited portrayal as Poe. Conveying an excited morbid interest in the unfolding murders and then restrained agony and horror when the woman he loves is caught up in the murderer’s scheme.

The most bizarre element of the film is the way in which the writers try to reach out to fans of Edgar Allan Poe by giving a nod to his most famous and chilling stories and then utterly alienate them by rewriting his life. The only element of the story that can be seen to be based in fact is that Edgar Allan Poe did reside in Baltimore for some time in the 19th century. The element of fiction given to Poe’s life is most glaring in the inclusion of Alice Eve’s coquettish love interest. All that is known of Poe’s love life is that he married his thirteen year old cousin who later died of TB, not exactly the stuff of Hollywood romances. The Raven probably would have received a much better reception if the author within the film had been a completely fictional creation. As it stands the film feels less like a tribute to one of the world’s greatest horror writers and more like an insult to him. As it opens the film is proceeded by the words ‘Little is known about the last days of Edgar Allan Poe’s life..”  having watched the film one is tempted to finish the sentence with the words : so we made it up.

Released : 9th October 2012

Directed by : James Mc Teigue

Starring: John Cusack, Alice Eve, Luke Evans