Making a movie creates many challenges whether it is based on drama, action, comedy, or horror. It seems as if there are even more challenges facing horror movies these days, especially getting people to the theater. Fans continue to complain about remakes, and unoriginal stories, so they sit home and wait for the DVD instead. “The Raven” certainly faces this challenge, but why?
The story centers around the last few days of Edgar Allan Poe’s (John Cusack) life. He is struggling not only to get his work published, but also to arrange a marriage with Emily (Alice Eve), the love of his life. As if things aren’t bad enough, a string of murders start occurring based on his work. He is forced to get involved when this killer kidnaps Emily. Poe then teams up with detective Fields (Luke Evans) in order to save Emily, and the town from this killer.
In a way, the movie limits itself by making Poe the main character. They really could've centered it around Joe Schmoe, and told a similar story. Would it have been gained as much attention… probably not. They needed a centerpiece, and Poe was that man. However, making Poe the lead means they have to know about his life, as well as his work.
Apparently they did a good job of covering both aspects, but who would know? For those who know Poe’s stories and life well, they could be engaged in his story. They could judge fact from fiction throughout the movie. For those, like myself, that know who Poe is but aren't as well versed in his work and life, it becomes a harder sell. And if anyone sees this movie that has no idea who he is, then I really give you credit and hope you learned something.
If Poe isn’t enough to draw an audience, than it is up to the mystery, suspense, and horror to do so. As far as creating mystery, they do a good job. Actually, they might do too good a job. The audience could take many guesses at who the killer tormenting Poe is, but would be hard pressed to come up with the right person. In the end, the killer’s motives make sense, but the audience might not remember seeing the killer at any point in the film.
It is not edge of your seat suspense, but there is enough to go around. Poe’s girlfriend has been buried alive, and the clock is ticking for Poe to rescue her. Also, there is the suspense of trying to stop the killer before they take the next victim. Of course, this all goes back to how engaged the audience gets with Poe, and his adventure.
While there are several deaths in the movie, it is a little disappointing that the audience never really gets to see them. Instead, the audience usually gets to see the aftermath. The killer leaves their victims in some interesting positions, which in a way makes up for not showing the actually death. It is kind of like seeing a death set up in a haunted house.
There is nothing to worry about when it comes to the acting. I don’t know enough about Poe to say Cusack nailed his character, but it appears he does a good job of handling all of Poe’s different emotions. Alice’s best performance is when she has been buried alive. The audience gets a good glimpse of the terror, and desperation she goes through her while trying to claw her way out. Luke turns out to be a good detective, showing his concern for Poe, and the need to solve this crime.
While a movie like “The Avengers” faces little challenge getting people to theaters, “The Raven” has its work cut out for it. Yes, Poe is an interesting character to some people, but not everyone. Those familiar with him could get engaged with his character, while the mystery, suspense, and horror might have been more interesting to those not as familiar with him. The acting turns out to be one of the brightest spots in the movie. Overall, none of these things are enough for me to tell you that it is a must see in theaters. If you wait for the DVD, I wouldn’t blame you so I give this movie 2 pools of blood.