The Raven

Rebel Without a Clause. I'm sorry.
"The only one who can stop a serial killer is the man who inspired him."

Welcome to another week at The Tagline! I'm going to resist the urge to start my holiday coverage quite yet, but rest assured that you will be seeing plenty of Arnold Schwarzenegger before the end of the month. Today however I will be talking about the suspense/horror film The Raven, starring John Cusack (who has his own post here) as a fictionalized Edgar Allan Poe. I say fictionalized because, while perhaps a vulgar, high functioning alcoholic prone to ravings, he at no point marries any 13 year old relatives, and seems generally pretty lucid, just a little odd, and so that gives him serious advantage over historical reports of the real Edgar Allan Poe. This movie follows some of Mr. Poe's final days, as he partners with police to try and identify and capture a serial killer who appears to be using Poe's literary works as inspiration for his murders.

Stop writing about murder for five minutes and you
get thrown on your ass in the mud.
The case is obviously very personal for Poe, who is portrayed as certainly darkly imaginative, but by no means a madman. His work is to him only fiction. The capture of the culprit becomes even more paramount to Poe when his fiance Emily (Alice Eve) is kidnapped by the killer, to get Poe 'into the game' so to speak. The killer's terms for keeping her alive involve writing fiction again (Poe had stopped writing, and was destitute as a result), mixing the real murders and kidnapping with his own poetic license. Leading the investigation is Detective Fields (Luke Evans, I think he was in Immortals? Man that movie blew), a detective trying to uphold his reputation in the face of the brazen and gruesome string of murders.

Mr. Poe feels up his girlfriend, while his raccoon watches.
So how does this movie stack up? For starters let's talk about Mr. Poe himself. John Cusack does a really good job of portraying a Poe that is both a reasonable simulacrum to the real Poe, but also a character who could actually be a likable protagonist, and not a creepy looking maybe pedophile who fantasizes about murder. Poe is eccentric, uncouth, generally obnoxious, and often drunk. He is however not a bad guy, and is really in love with Emily, and willing to go to basically any lengths to save her from his deranged fan. Also he has a pet raccoon, and that is pretty cool. I wish I had a pet raccoon.

Quote the raven: Hot Tub Time Machine.
As far as the rest of the plot goes... well it's not bad. The murders are grisly, the plot is not super obvious, and honestly the identity of the murderer actually was sort of a surprise. That's not bad in my book. The plot is kind of slow at parts, the pacing of the movie could have used some work, but it isn't entirely tedious like some movies are (like Valkyrie, god I can't talk enough about what a shitty borefest that movie was seriously). This movie also evokes an appropriately dark and oppressive atmosphere. This movie's dark scenery, dimly candle-lit rooms, and dull weather all evoke a sense of gloom that perfectly fits both the author and the plot. So kudos there gang.

I need to find out where this guy gets his clothes.
If I were pressed to grade it, I'd give this movie a C. It was just okay. I could have kept on going without it, and frankly they could have probably made a more compelling movie if they'd really tried. To write such a simplistic by the numbers murder mystery, with all of Poe's literary works to draw on, they really could have made something interesting. Other reviewers were not even as generous as me, and this movie endures a 22% over on the RT. It also did what you might describe as 'pisspoor' in theaters, only just managing to make back is 26 million dollar budget, including international sales. That is too bad for them. Better luck with The Raven 2: Ravener.

That's it for today! I'll see you all on Thursday, in the mean time maybe go to the movie huh?

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