I had to see the Raven. I have read Edgar Allen Poe since I was 12. So even though I hate John Cusack and scary movies (yes, probably any normal human being wouldn’t think it was scary, but I’m special). I saw it.
This 2012 thriller directed by James McTeigue very loosely follows the end of Poe’s (John Cusack) life. A violent serial killer starts butchering people in the fashion of Poe’s gruesome stories. Then the killer directly challenges him when he kidnaps Poe’s fiancé (Alice Eve). Poe has to work with a detective (Luke Evans) and go further into the depths of darkness than even he ever has (Ha, I just made my emo side proud) to save the woman he loves.
My first response to this movie was me screaming and jumping ten feet and slapping my friend Sara for laughing at me. But I think my screaming was justified considering the movie showed EVERYTHING IN THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM SCENE!!!! Not even Quentin Tarantino has done a more disturbing film sequence. According to sara the blood looked really fake, but I wasn’t noticing that BECAUSE I WAS WATCHING A FREAKIN BLADE PLUNGE THROUGH A FAT GUY’S STOMACH!
Finally a day later I have finally reached objectivity to critique this film without having the urge to go find a stuffed animal. To be honest, this movie only has one real flaw. But it was a big enough flaw to ruin the movie. And that grievous error was casting John Cusack as Edgar Allen Poe.
A few weeks ago I wrote a post in which I ranted about my disappointment that John Cusack was going to be in this role, but I would like to guarantee I had an open mind. However, as I predicted, Cusack just did a horrible job. He actually had pretty good writing to work with that fought to make his character seem dynamic. However, Cusack couldn’t get the timing right to make the funny parts as funny as they could have been, and in the scenes when he is talking about his famous Poe darkness, he overacts and seems fake. Cusack, go back to apocalyptic movies that no one sees anyway so we don’t have to worry about you anymore.
I was also quite disappointed that the movie does not accurately show Poe’s death. The movie has Poe found raving mad until he dies of poison. In reality, he died raving mad because he had rabies. It could have been very easy to incorporate the rabies. Everything would be the same except Cusack would be on that park bench foaming at the mouth with red eyes and perhaps trying to bite a few people. Can’t we let him die with dignity? You know, Old Yeller style?
I give a lot of kudos for many references to Poe’s works that I am familiar with, including The Cask of Amontillado, the Tell Tale Heart, and the Raven, of course. To my delight, the movie ends with Poe reciting through voice over my favorite Poe poem, Dream Within a Dream. There were also references to true facts about Poe’s life, like how he was thrown out of West Point.
However, movies live or die with their casting. And since Cusack was a horrible fit, this movie just did not work. However, I give it a 3 rather than a 1 because of some of the good elements it did have. Now, I have to say this: Cusack, your acting career should be nevermore. Cheesy, I know, but I had to.