Apr. 25, 2012 - Issue #862: The Real Deal
While you don't need to be a literary buff to comprehend The Raven, being a little familiar with Poe's work—particularly the more popular stories like The Pit and the Pendulum, The Masque of the Red Death and The Telltale Heart—will make the film more enjoyable. Thankfully, the plot does not leave it up to the viewer to decipher which murder is linked to which story and some online resources have even put together "required reading" guides for The Raven.
A word of warning: this is not a film for the squeamish. Severed tongues, graphically slit throats, an unfortunate swing of a rather large blade and a heavy dose of fake blood is played up against a dreary Gothic backdrop that seems fitting for Poe's love of all things macabre.
Cusack, who is generally known for playing likable characters, is surprisingly good as Poe. Even though the plot has no historical accuracy, and wasn't meant to, Cusack embodies the infamous poet in his madness, melancholy, abrasiveness and twisted genius.
The fast-paced plot has a tendency to draw parallels bordering a little too closely on Sherlock Holmes territory, but, regardless, remains enticing and offers an intriguing "what if" to the mystery of the events leading up to Poe's death in 1849.
Directed by James McTeigue
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