Ever had that sinking feeling five minutes or so into a film where you already know it is going to disappoint?

I know I have, and it is my sad duty to report that The Raven can now join that list.

Inspired by, and featuring, both the works of Edgar Allan Poe and the great man himself, this was a flick I had on my radar pretty much right from the off.

A huge slice of my horror education you see was based around the Roger Corman/Vincent Price double team that rattled through Poe classics like Pit and The Pendulum and Masque of the Red Death, movies I caught while still at school.

This then led me into Poe’s work itself, so you can imagine when a film popped up with Poe tracking a serial killer copying the methods in his stories, my interest was well and truly grabbed.

There is no doubting the premise is great, with this purporting to be the true account of Poe’s last days before his untimely death in 1849.

But it is such a botch job by director James McTeigue that you will be left wondering what might have been.

John Cusack does a decent job as Poe, but he is saddled with such a troublesome script that in many ways he was fighting a lost cause.

The opening scene for example, which shows a maniacal Poe begging for booze in a Baltimore bar while spouting poetry at all and sundry, is especially cringeworthy and sets the supposed hero up as a bit of a dick.

Things do warm up slightly during the course of the film as the plot unravels, with Poe teaming up with the local police (headed by Luke Evans) to both nail this unknown killer and save his kidnapped finance (Alice Eve).

Everything is in place here for a great old time at the movies – a solid cast, a great idea, impressive costumes and sets.

But for me the whole thing just wasn’t dark enough, especially when you consider the source material.

And if the identity of the killer was meant to provide some sort of audience guessing game then that is a major fail, as the unveiling will simply have you asking the person next to you ‘who is that again?’

Yes there are some nice flourishes, along with a handful of decent lines (Poe: “I can’t help but despise people who despise me” for example).

There are also a couple of nice gory scenes, particularly the ‘Pendulum’ segment, and the impressive heaving bosom of Alice Eve diverted my attention for certain periods.

But with all the expectations I took into The Raven, that is nowhere near enough to save it.

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.