In 29th century Baltimore, Edgar Allan Poe, writer of famous poems and stories like The Raven, is a penniless drunk, depending on money he gets a newspaper for writing acerbic reviews of other writer’s work to keep him in the booze. Emily the woman he loves is difficult to reach because her father Colonel Hamilton as a very understandable dislike of Poe so they have sneak around behind his back. Two murders occur which bear a striking resemblance to a certain Poe tale and Detective Emmett Fields thinks Poe may be responsible or at least connected. When another Poe-inspired death takes place, Poe decides to help with the investigation………..
The stories of Edgar Allan Poe have been a fertile source of inspiration for movie makers for many decades, most notably the Roger Corman-produced series in the late 1950s and 60s usually starring Vincent Price, but it has now been a while, and few major productions have tackled his work, despite the richness of his undoubtedly grim and doom-laden but incredibly compelling tales. Well, now we have The Raven, which by the way is nothing to do with either the 1935 nor the 1963 movies of that name. Instead of adapting a Poe story, we have the character of Poe himself placed into the rather familiar Tenebrae/Basic Instinct gimmick of a murderer using methods from a writer’s stories to kill his/ her victims. This allows the filmmakers to stage variations on famous moments from Poe tales, from The Tell-Tale Heart to The Masque Of The Red Death to an especially gory version of The Pit And The Pendulum, though as with a few other scenes the silly CG blood negatives against any full effectiveness. Despite working in the odd moment from Poe’s life though, such as how he died, there is little feeling of his work and the film proceeds for the most part like a perfectly okay but unremarkable serial killer thriller. John Cusack appears to be channelling Robert Downey Jnr’s Sherlock Holmes, while overall the movie is very reminiscent of From Hell in look and feel. Generally it’s solid fare, certainly an enjoyable couple of hours and better than most reviews would have you believe [do critics seem to have it in for James McTeigue’s enjoyable films or what?], but in the end rather forgettable, unlike any one of Poe’s wonderful tales which will remain stuck in the brain and haunt you weeks after you’ve read them.