Review of The Raven


“It’s the beating of that hideous heart”… not something you will hear anyone say during a showing of “The Raven”, a DOA thriller from director James McTeigue (V For Vendetta”). The Hannah Shakespeare-Ben Livingston screenplay is less inspired by Edgar Allan Poe than it is on the countless forgettable police procedurals on CBS. You know the ones. One-dimensional characters, lots of talking, a villain who has nothing better to do than challenge the police to a “game”, a few limp action sequences, all topped off with a final reveal of the killer to a resounding chorus of…”eh”.

John Cusack takes the unenviable position of having to breathe life into Poe, who here is presented as nothing more than an arrogant, miserable drunk thrown into solving crimes in Baltimore when a serial killer begins using the author’s stories as inspiration. The stakes are upped when his girlfriend (Alice Eve) is kidnapped, leaving Poe and the young inspector (Luke Evans) in charge of the case to remember Poe’s stories in order to predict the killer’s next move. This takes them to a masquerade ball, theater, underground tunnel and a foggy forest.

The film earns points for atmosphere and production design, and of course blood (one character is even cut in half), but it fails the suspense test by thinking that characters standing around examining bodies, maps, ect, waiting for that next a-ha moment (oh, the name of the ship is the Fortunato) to move the plot along, eventually leading to nothing but another dead body. Cusack just looks bored and McTeigue is more interested in trying to stylize something like this for a modern day audience than stage a decent action scene. At the end of the day “The Raven” is just another mystery, given a fine gimmick in creating it around Poe’s stories, but made bland and forgettable by a careless-looking approach.