Review of The Raven (2012)

Dir. James McTeigue

Starring John Cusack, Alice Eve, Luke Evans

The Raven is not a horror movie. It is a crime movie disguised as a horror movie meant to fool horror lovers into watching it. This movie is about Edgar Allen Poe’s last few days alive. Poe (Cusack) returns to Baltimore in hopes of marrying Emily Hamilton (Eve), as well as collecting some money from a local Baltimore newspaper, but instead must join Detective Fields (Evans) in solving a slew of grotesque murders based on his infamous short stories.

I’m not going to sugarcoat it: this movie is not good. Not only is it pretending to be horror, it’s making a mockery of one of the best horror writers of history. They falsely portray Poe as a man who is heroic in nature. We all know that Poe lost his mother and his young wife to Tuberculosis. We all know that Poe was an angry alcoholic. We all know that Poe was grim, desolate and deranged. None of this came across in this movie. Instead, the writers decided to give him a love interest, make him loveable and downplay his many flaws.

I was mainly bothered by the casting in this movie. John Cusack is not Edgar Allen Poe. He’s just not. He doesn’t pass as Poe in any way, shape or form. Literally anybody else could have played him better. His eyes and his voice are far too soft. I can’t take him seriously when he gets angry. I don’t believe that the idea for The Pit and The Pendulum came from his mind. I’m not saying that John Cusack isn’t a great actor – I mean, just watch The Frozen Ground, it’s amazing – but he is not Edgar Allen Poe.

The idea to add the love interest was just a bad one. I know that Hollywood likes to add love to everything they touch – because that’s how you get the women to the theater, amirite?? – but this was just wrong. Knowing what we know about psychology today, it’s just not feasible that Edgar Allen Poe would be as open to new love as he was in this movie. It is said he frequently blamed himself for the death of his mother and his wife. He thought he was cursed. Sure, he courted women, but there’s no evidence to support that he was looking for a second wife. Also, it is unusual that an alcoholic would be able to fall in a love as deep as the love in this movie. It doesn’t make any sense.

The list of what is wrong with this movie is nearly boundless, but I will make one last point before I go. Edgar Allen Poe is brought in by Detective Fields as a consultant, however, he is frequently treated as if he is a member of the force. This isn’t realistic. Poe would not be in the field with his own gun. He would not be expected to apprehend a suspect by himself. It would be different if he branched out on his own to solve the murders, but it’s not like that. It’s almost as if it’s a buddy cop movie. It’s just ridiculous.

All in all, I was really irritated by this movie. I found myself intermittently muttering, “literally anybody else,” and shaking my head. Maybe this movie could be considered decent by someone who wasn’t a fan of Poe before watching it, but that’s not the case with me. I do not recommend it to anyone who calls him/herself a horror fan.


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