Review: The Raven

daniel cohen lets his tell tale heart doing the talking…

Plot: When a deranged killer starts murdering people in the vain of Edgar Allan Poe stories, Detective Fields (Luke Evans) employs Poe (John Cusack) himself to help catch the killer.

I’m surprised this movie actually got made, because there is no way I can be convinced someone actually stayed awake to finish reading the script. Maybe it was sold just because of the name Edgar Allan Poe, but I’m pretty sure the majority of people who really care deeply about his work are aging English Professors, and they don’t go to movies. This is basically a long winded and round about way of me saying this film is boring with a capital B-O-R-I-N-G.

 

When you make a period piece like this from the year 1849, it’s already an uphill battle not to sound dry and uninteresting, but it seemed like in the first half hour, the director (James McTeigue) went out of his way to make this as boring as possible. Maybe he has young babies who keep him up all night, and he needed to make this film to help put them to sleep. The lighting is so dark, and the settings are just unappealing and as wooden as the performances. Luke Evans as the Detective who employs Poe is terrible, and the love interest played by Alice Eve is completely lost. Brendan Gleeson is doing an alright job, but even a veteran like himself can’t get fully invested.

The one guy who’s trying his best is John Cusack. I respect the effort Cusack gives in his performances, but he’s just not that great of an actor, and is no where near capable of carrying a movie like this. He’s either over acting every line of dialogue, or he looks unsure of what to do and just starts yelling a lot to try and shoehorn in some emotion, but there’s nothing to be emotional about in this movie whatsoever.

The story isn’t laid out very well either. It constantly repeats the same thing over and over again. There’s a murder, Poe realizes what story it’s from, and we get the next clue. This happens 3-4 times. It gets a little bit more suspenseful and moderately interesting as the mystery progresses, but by that point, you are completely checked out.

And some of this is just plain dumb. There’s a scene where Detective Fields, Poe, and an army of cops go to these underground tunnels where the killer might be, and Fields tells them to signal each other by blowing loud whistles and banging on the brick walls with hammers. Yeah … that won’t alert the killer and get you found out. Are you crazy?! There is one solid tension filled moment involving the bad guy and one of his victims inside a coffin that was filmed in a cool way, but nothing worth sitting through this whole movie for.

I have nothing else to say about this film. The tone is an abyss, there’s only one half way intriguing character, and nothing is interesting at all. The best part was the end when I thought they were going to leave room open for a sequel, but then the last shot basically kills that possibly, so that was refreshing to see. If you really want to watch something inspired by Edgar Allan Poe, go see the old Treehouse of Horror Simpsons’ episode where they do a take off of the Raven, with Bart playing the Raven.

Rating: 4 out of 10 (Really Bad)

Daniel Cohen is the hard-boiled Film Editor for the Pop Break. Besides reviews, Daniel writes box office predictions, Gotham reviews and Oscar coverage. He can also be found on the Breakcast. If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow's fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.