Quothe the Raven, "Not This Time" - A review of The Raven

John Cusack stars as Edgar Allen Poe in the film "The Raven" about a brutal serial killer who patterns his murders after Poe's stories.
John Cusack stars as Edgar Allen Poe in the film "The Raven" about a brutal serial killer who patterns his murders after Poe's stories.

Not even John Cusack can elevate this drudge to even a half-way respectable level.

John Cusack is a great comedian and even can pass occasionally as a suitable action hero. The trick is finding him the right script and the right plot.

This is not it.

The Raven is a sordid tale about a serial killer who makes use of the stories of Edgar Allen Poe to plot his grisly murders. He plays a game of wits with the master poet and storyteller by kidnapping his bride-to-be and places her in peril in an unknown location and challenges the world (and specifically Poe) to find her.

Along the way, we are treated to various disdainfully horrific killings and, in at least one case, we get to watch the crime unfold.

What works here is palpable suspense that we feel as we watch the murders take place. Much like the movie "Untraceable", our eyes are riveted as we see the murders taking place knowing fully well that there's nothing we can do to stop them from occurring.

What doesn't work here is Cusack's inability to convince us of his love for his fiancee in peril. His unemotional delivery does nothing to aid the storyline and actually serves as a deterrant to believing the jeopardy we know the character must feel.

Also, I had to question certain directorial choices that were made here. For example, when Emily (Alice Eve), Poe's fiancee, is supposedly interred under floorboards by her captor, she manages to poke a hole in the ground above her. She can see bookshelves and the approaching legs of her captor even though, from her angle, she should only be able to peer straight up.

Also, when we discover where she's hidden, we have to wonder why no one else would have heard her screams and come to her rescue.

This is a tale for the plausibly challenged at best.

I actually enjoy a good mystery and had high hopes for this one. But if anyone asks me if I plan to see this movie again, quothe the movie guy, "Nevermore."

I give "The Raven" 2 out of 5 stars.

Official Trailer

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