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Reviews & Ratings for
The Raven More at IMDbPro »

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The Raven

Author: Jackson Booth-Millard from United Kingdom
29 April 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I heard a little about the film during its release in cinemas, but found our much more so when it came to DVD, including the meaning of the title and who the leading actor was playing, so I decided to try it, directed by James McTeigue (V for Vendetta). Basically, set in the 19th Century, in Baltimore, Maryland, writer Edgar Allan Poe (John Cusack), most famous for the short poem "The Raven", is penniless and writing reviews in the Baltimore Patriot newspaper to get by, he is in love and wanting to marry Emily Hamilton (Alice Eve), but he is despised by her father Captain Charles Hamilton (Brendan Gleeson). A mother and her twelve year old daughter are found mysteriously murdered in a locked room, efficient Detective Emmett Fields (Luke Evans) recalls one of the stories of Allen Poe, so the writer is called in to give his verdict, and a short time later the murder of his rival writer Griswold (John Warnaby) occurs, with the murderer inspired by another of Poe's stories. It soon becomes apparent that a serial killer is on the loose and murdering people using the descriptions from the works of Poe, the stories quoted and used during the film are "The Murders in the Rue Morgue", "The Pit and the Pendulum" (the gory death of Griswold), "The Masque of the Red Death", "The Cask of Amontillado" and "The Tell-Tale Heart". But the situation gets much more intense for Poe when the perpetrator uses a diversion to kidnap Emily, she is seen buried alive in a coffin under earth in a shallow grave, which is located beneath the printing floor of Poe's office, Captain Hamilton refuses to call of the search party assigned to find her. Emily is eventually returned and the killer does reveal himself to Poe, it is the newspaper's typesetter Ivan (Sam Hazeldine), he calls himself "Reynolds", he offers Poe a drink and explains his plan, Poe was unaware that the drink had been poisoned, following his story Ivan escapes. In the end Poe is becoming weaker due to the poisoning, (as in real life) he is last seen behaving delirious and rambling by a man on a park bench, with his last moment of strength he says "Tell Fields his last name is Reynolds", his corpse is seen by Fields, but with these words he is able to connect the dots and he does find the killer. Also starring Pirates of the Caribbean's Kevin McNally as Maddux, Oliver Jackson-Cohen as John Cantrell, Pam Ferris as Mrs. Bradley, Brendan Coyle as Reagan, Jimmy Yuill as Captain Eldridge and Dave Legeno as Percy. Cusack gives a performance as the boozy and broke writer turned investigator, and Evans is likable as his police officer sidekick, the story is interesting, with a killer turning dark fiction into reality, there are predictable moments, but the gory moments, the mystery element and the Gothic feel makes this watchable, a not bad period thriller. Worth watching!

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A Fascinatingly Compelling Speculative Mystery Thriller

Author: tabuno from utah
1 April 2015

I've always believed that John Cusack as a much under-rated actor. His selection and choice to perform in this dark, speculative version of how Edgar Allen Poe may have died a few days before his death is fascinating and very well done. The script, plot outline, the acting, and presentation are consistent, appealing, and captivating in their portrayal of a complicated man who demonstrates great passion and devotion as well as a layered character not always agreeable, sometimes bittersweet in its consequences and those are perhaps reasons this movie didn't really set all that well with a majority of the audience members.

Nevertheless, this mystery thriller incorporates the highest of human character and ultimately and convincing period mystery film with both heroism of both sexes, and a fiendish, intelligent villain along with a poetic narrative that almost sings with sublime literary prose, very unusual for film nowadays. This movie has the substantive density of Leo DeCaprio's more contemporary atmospheric mystery thriller of Shutter Island (2010) and the tantalizing sadistic teasers of Along Came A Spider (2001) and The Bone Collector (1999). It captures the heart of the superlative crime mystery thriller The Lovely Bones (2009) or the queasy, unsettling sensation arising from Gone Baby Gone (2007). However, this movie seems to have more in common with the crime thriller classic, Se7en (1995) with its parallels in the insidious nature of the villain and the efforts to capture him along with a twisted ending.

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Many plot holes, but this was quite a ride

Author: Johan Dondokambey from Indonesia
28 March 2015

The story feels like an overdone effort of mixing the real world with the murder stories. But at the end this movie only feels like a 19th century rendition of another murder copycat movie. Nevertheless the movie is nicely directed and it felt like a nice fast paced mystery thriller. The movie nicely puts the focus on the real world and let the rhyme and poetry stood as the sweetener and not pollutes the movie too much. This keeps the suspense mood flowing, as I only recall one moment of romance with slow pace within the movie. The acting overall is a decent job. John Cusack nicely portrays a drunkard has-been-someone writer who's forced to see his stories become reality. Luke Evans nicely balances Cusack's performance. Alice Eve did well enough to complete the romance angle and the final catch.

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Quoth the raven: it's OK, I suppose.

Author: BA_Harrison from Hampshire, England
16 March 2015

Baltimore, 1849: a devious serial killer is at work, using the works of Gothic horror novelist Edgar Allen Poe for inspiration. After being discounted as a suspect, Poe (played by John Cusack) joins forces with the police to try and solve the case, but becomes emotionally involved after the killer abducts his girlfriend Emily (Alice Eve), leaving a series of ingenious clues as to her whereabouts.

James McTeigue's The Raven reminds me of a lot of several other films. As with Time After Time (1979), which sees real-life 19th century novelist H.G. Wells travels through time to pursue Jack the Ripper, McTeigue's movie features a literary legend embroiled in a fictional adventure involving elements of his own writing. With Poe possessing deductive skills rivalling those of Sherlock Holmes, the film is also reminiscent of another '79 movie, Murder by Decree, in which Conan Doyle's detective also hunts down Saucy Jack. This in turn calls to mind the cinematic version of Alan Moore's Ripper-based graphic novel From Hell, with which it also shares a similar visual style.

Unfortunately, The Raven isn't quite as accomplished as any of these other films. While it may look great, benefit from some decent performances, and feature one or two moments of impressive gore, the film suffers from a contrived plot, Saw-style logic that enables the villain to construct a fiendishly complex (and probably very expensive) pendulum killing machine, disjointed editing that makes certain scenes impossible to follow, and an unlikeable central character: Poe is an obnoxious egomaniac, his eloquence disconcerting and his demeanour repellent (did people really talk like that back then?), and while this might be accurate for all I know, it doesn't make for much of a hero.

5.5 out of 10, generously rounded up to 6 for the rather silly but very gory pendulum bisection (hard to believe that such a scene is deemed suitable for a 15 certificate—how times have changed).

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Dark and Somber

Author: Uriah43 from Amarillo, Texas
14 March 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Like many artists "Edgar Allen Poe" (John Cusack) isn't given nearly as much appreciation while he is alive and this movie captures his plight during the time he is residing in Baltimore, Maryland just prior to his death. It is during this time that he meets and falls in love with a beautiful young woman named "Emily Hamilton" (Alice Eve) and hopes to marry her. Unfortunately, Alice's father "Charles Hamilton" (Brendan Gleeson) doesn't look too kindly on their marriage and has no intention of allowing that to happen. It is also at this time that a serial killer goes on the rampage and uses situations straight out of Poe's writings which come back to haunt the famous writer. Now rather than reveal any more of this movie and risk spoiling it for those who haven't seen it I will just say that this film manages to capture the mid-19th century time period pretty well. It also does a good job in creating a dark and somber environment which benefits the personality of someone like Edgar Allen Poe. Yet, while this film certainly has some suspense I thought it could have improved on it to a certain degree. As a result this movie doesn't quite achieve its potential and I have rated it accordingly. Slightly above average.

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Author: Guy from UK
12 March 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

THE RAVEN has a great concept, built around the circumstances of Edgar Allen Poe's death. The film takes this as the starting point to tell a fictional story about Poe trying to track down a serial killer in Baltimore, whose killings are inspired by Poe's stories, during the last days of his life. It's a concept rich in potential but sadly it's all wasted. At it's core, it fails to evoke the era and the man at all. Poe is depicted in cartoonish terms as a sort of manic blowhard, who spends all his time picking fights in bars, bragging about his own genius and being rather more forthright with women than was usual in the 19th century. It doesn't help that the likable John Cusack is noticeably plump where Poe was desiccated. What sinks the film though is the direction, which is so bad that many of the Poe-inspired murders are inferior in tension or horror to the Roger Corman versions. The curse of over-shooting and over-editing, as well as a lack of atmosphere and nails-on-a-blackboard dialogue, sinks every scene and the film.

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Tell Me What Thy Lordly Name Is On The Night's Plutonian Shore

Author: ShootingShark from Dundee, Scotland
1 March 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In Baltimore in 1849, a series of gruesome murders closely resemble those in the works of macabre writer Edgar Allan Poe. Detective Fields turns to the notorious author for help in discovering who is behind these dastardly deeds ...

The essence of Edgar Allan Poe's masterful poetry and prose is difficult to translate to the screen for many reasons, but prime amongst them is simply the words themselves. In his feverish writing, it is the characters' mental states and the nervous desperation he evokes with such disturbing intensity which drives the reader to shudder with gloom. As soon as you visualise his work it becomes a conflict between adherence to costume drama and the ultra-dark interiors present here, with modern dialogue and horror movie clichés. Having said that, it's a great central idea and an enjoyably gruesome story. Despite the title, the plot doesn't really have much to do with Poe's masterful 1845 poem The Raven; instead it starts with the killings from The Murders In The Rue Morgue, moves on to The Pit And The Pendulum through The Cask of Amontillado and culminates in The Tell-Tale Heart, with references to several other stories and poems. The performances are good, if a little histrionic (and confusingly Gleeson and McNally look almost identical), but the tone is too uneven - one minute Poe is a washed-up egotistical drunk and the next a chivalrous and dashing saviour. The film is at its best in the rare moments where it is slow and quiet, such as the soliloquy Poe gives about his (real life) wife Virginia's tragic protracted death from tuberculosis - "I often thought I could hear the sound of darkness as it stole across the horizon, rushing towards me. But here I was overwhelmed by a sorrow so poignant. Once she finally died I felt in all candour a great release, but it was soon supplanted by the return of that dark and morbid melancholy that has followed me like a black dog all my life ... ". The film is handsomely mounted - shot in Serbia and Hungary - with terrific sets and an elegant masked ball centrepiece - but in the end this is neither a dramatically fulfilling biopic of Poe or an exciting adaption of his work, so for me it falls a little flat. An enjoyable evening's entertainment though, but for better quality Poe fare, you still can't beat the sixties Roger Corman adaptations - my favourite of which is the 1961 The Pit And The Pendulum, but 1963's overtly comic The Raven is very funny/scary, and both were scripted by the brilliant science-fiction/horror author Richard Matheson. The writers of this movie could do well to study his work.

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Albeit having a promising start, the storyline was ridiculously bad and the ending was horrendous

Author: CarlosERM from Venezuela
26 February 2015

My rating: 0.5/10

My opinion on the film:

Drawing inspiration from the short stories and poems by Edgar Allan Poe to make a murder mystery film set in mid-19th century Baltimore with Poe himself as one of the main characters is actually a good idea. Maybe not the most original any Hollywood screenwriter can come up with, but if smartly executed, the resulting film would have the potential to be at least fun to watch.

The "smart" part is what failed here since, albeit having a promising start, the storyline was ridiculously bad and the ending was horrendous. Well, that and the hideous acting by nearly everyone involved (Brendan Gleeson, a character actor I find impossible to dislike, was the sole exception) made everything worse than it already was. John Cusack was laughably overacting the whole time and he was terribly miscast, in my opinion; Alice Eve was totally lame; and Luke Evans, though he at least seemed to make an effort, didn't do a good job either.

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Good enough

Author: phoenix 2 from Greece
16 January 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The writer of murder stories finds his novels being the inspiration of a serial killer and so he cooperates with the police to find him. Dark and thrilling, the film is not showing too much blood (which is good, the scenes with the murdered bodies are enough) but it does approaches the terror on a more psychological level. Poe is sarcastic and sensitive at the same time, fighting for his love and his place in the society. That's why I thought that he was presented brilliantly, even though some time he reminded me of Sherlock Holmes. So, the performances were good, almost excellent, as well as the whole atmosphere of Gothic, that almost imitated the vampire movies in the Dracula era. However, at some points I felt that the script didn't support the rest of the movie and that some things were overstretched. That's why I give the raven a six.

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A sometimes interesting mess of a film

Author: Leofwine_draca from United Kingdom
5 January 2015

This isn't a particularly bad film, but it is all over the place and it's rather hard to either enjoy it or pigeonhole it. It's a fictionalised account of the last days of Edgar Allan Poe, in which he finds himself assisting the Baltimore police force in their hunt for a serial killer whose crimes reference those in Poe's own fiction.

THE RAVEN is an odd cross between period Gothic, slasher horror, and detective story, and none of those genres really work all that well. The mystery stuff is based on contrivance and coincidence than real detective work, and the gory kills feel a little silly given their literary origins. What I did like were all of the Poe references in the film, which I picked up on having read a lot of the author's works.

What I didn't like was John Cusack whose domineering, shouty performance turns the whole thing into melodrama. I've never liked Cusack, in fact, and his miscast turn as Poe merely consolidates that opinion. The rest of the cast is more dependable, particularly with the likes of Brendan Gleeson and Luke Evans, although Alice Eve is another weak link playing the usual love interest/damsel in distress. THE RAVEN did keep me watching and it's not a particularly bad film, but I can't help but feel it could have been so more successful in the right hands.

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