The Raven Movie Review

The Raven Movie Review


If you are a fan of the macabre, a patron of mystery and a lover of literature, then you will no doubt be passionately attracted to James McTeigue’s new movie The Raven. Unfortunately, that attraction is likely to fizzle, and fizzle fast once you actually sit through the poorly acted, poorly written, and poorly staged Edgar Allan Poe biopic. If you can’t tell already, this is not going to be a positive movie review.

The usually charming and talented John Cusack turns in a surprisingly bad performance as the American master of macabre; his actions are grandiosely exaggerated and he is prone to wild-eyed sessions of emotional instability that seem to solely serve his self-gratification as an actor. One gets the sense that he is either trying too hard for an Academy Award or mocking the film itself. Neither impression is one that an actor or director wants conveyed to the audience.

The movie itself is a silly speculation on Poe’s death, a Sparknotes-approved whodunit. A serial killer terrorizes Poe and the police with crimes resembling the author’s gruesome and sordid tales.  The audience is led to believe that Poe’s mysterious death may have had something to do with the criminal underworld as opposed the plethora of less glorious theories already in existence: alcoholism, syphilis, heart disease and epilepsy.

The film’s aesthetic is frankly pathetic. Instead of 19th century Baltimore, the audience is given a Count Dracula-approved Transylvania look. Anything and everything that you can stereotypically associate with Gothic horror appears in this film; nothing is creative and yet nothing is trying to strive for cinematic realism either. Ben Livingston and Hannah Shakespeare’s screenplay resembles a lackluster lecture from a high school English teacher and the film’s tempo plods along at a slow and boring pace.

Bottom line: if you are a love of Poe, don’t see this film. John Cusack’s goofy performance might ruin your literary appetite. And if the master of macabre isn’t particularly near and dear to your heart, then you should definitely spend your hard-earned money on a beer and a burger instead.


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