“The Raven” is ostensibly the story of the last few days of Edgar Allan Poe’s life. The poet is a broke drunk, still striving desperately to gain both fame and fortune and courting Emily Hamilton (“ATM”), a woman whose father does not approve. However, when a series of grisly murders plagues Baltimore, Detective Fields (Luke Evans, “Immortals”) – a reader of Poe’s works – recognizes the scenes as lifted from the author’s stories.
The deadly game escalates when the killer kidnaps Emily, forcing Poe and Fields into an unlikely partnership. It becomes a race against time as Poe struggles to solve the puzzle of the mystery murderer’s identity before the woman he loves becomes the next victim.
Here, I feel like I should apologize. That synopsis makes “The Raven” sound as if it might be a reasonably entertaining film. I assure you, that is not the case.
One might think that a film built around one of the most renowned writers of mystery and the macabre would be scary, or at the very least suspenseful. One would be wrong. The script is thin at the best of times, threadbare at the worst. It’s a run of the mill “mystery” that audiences are supposed to care about because of a historical figure’s involvement. It’s not even a particularly good-looking movie. Director James McTeigue has tried to make his Baltimore gritty and stylized, but it just feels forced and derivative.
It kills me to say it, but John Cusack is officially in a slump. He hasn’t made a good movie in far too long and “The Raven” might be the worst. He yells a lot and furrows his brow and does his odd little tight frowny-face thing and … well, that’s it. The role of Poe is ill-fitting for him; it just never clicks in any real way. Most of the rest of Baltimore’s population feels essentially interchangeable – it doesn’t really matter who’s who.
There’s no reason to see “The Raven.” It’s an unoriginal plot that you’ve seen a hundred times before. The performances are lackluster and the direction is uninspired. Even if you’re a Poe fan, the connection feels so tacked-on that it’ll just wind up disappointing you. It’s dull and ludicrous and completely unmemorable. Will I ever watch this movie again?
1 out of 5