The Raven starring John Cusack is based around Edgar Allen Poe. Cusack himself has highlighted that the film is not a biopic of Poe, but is more a thriller that involves him as a character.
People going to see the film expecting a biopic are going to be disappointed, but it makes no attempt to be that sort of film. There is no serious attempt at historical accuracy, so if you want accuracy don’t come to see The Raven.
The film offers a potential story about what happened during the last few days of Poe’s life. It is known that he died of an unknown illness and was found in a park, but to this day it is not known what caused his death. This film speculates about what caused this and elaborates on it in great detail. The film follows the last week of his life during which he was hunted by an insane killer who had killed many people after taking inspiration from some of Poe’s stories.
John Cusack has not been seen on the big screen very much lately and it is fantastic to see him back up there. The film begins in 1849, in Baltimore, and first impression of Poe is that he is a drunken buffoon who mostly focuses on irritating the owners of bars. He is a writer who has published several novels at this point, but despite this he does not have a lot of money.
In the next scene we’re taken to a scene elsewhere in Baltimore and the police find two bodies that have been sealed inside a room; a mother and daughter. After a little bit of investigation, the police realise that the murder is almost identical to a fictional murder that Poe wrote in one of his books.
The detective investigating the case is played by Luke Evans and he later finds that one of Poe’s greatest critics and rivals has been murdered as well. Once again, this person has been killed in a way that is identical to one of Poe’s books. This murder is exactly how it appears in the novel The Pit and the Pendulum.
Poe does not initially get involved with the investigation of the murders, but when his mistress is kidnapped by the killer he insists on helping detectives find the person responsible. Poe is forced into the investigation as the killer is enticing him to play a game of cat and mouse with him which might allow Poe to save his mistress.
It’s almost tempting to describe the film is a bit silly, but the film just takes itself too seriously to be able to do that. This doesn’t make it an unenjoyable film and if you go in expecting a thrilling, but a fun film, you are probably going to have a good time. A lot of people are probably going to criticise it for being too weak as a thriller, but this criticism is largely unnecessary as the film does not try to be a serious thriller.
Mr Cusack performs admirably and he makes a fantastic Poe. He is engaging and charismatic and the audience will find themselves sympathising with him even when he is being a bit of a buffoon. Some might think that Cusack is overacting in the later part of the movie and he does seem to shout a bit too much. However, this could easily be interpreted as Cusack showing of how Poe was gradually becoming mad.
Alice Eve, who plays the role of Poe’s love interest, performs less well and you just don’t get the feeling that she and Poe have realistic affection for each other. There are some moments when the movie is genuinely scary and there are scenes in the film that will make you jump. Overall, The Raven is an interesting film that is probably worth seeing.