31 Days of Halloween-Day 19: The Raven (2012)

When it comes to literary horror, one of the true masters is Edgar Allan Poe. And when it comes to mystery, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes is the crème de la crème of detectives. With 2012’s The Raven, we get a unique blend of the two. Poe purists probably won’t be happy but could enjoy it for the references. Fans of previous incarnations (Karloff/Lugosi in ’35 and Price/Karloff in ’63) who were hoping for a remake won’t be happy. However, I found The Raven to be enjoyable despite its’ flaws. John Cusack (Being John Malkovich) heads up the cast as Edgar Allan Poe himself in 1849, the year of his death. A series of deaths patterned after Poe’s poetry brings the less-than-popular writer into the fray as he teams up with detective Fields (Luke Evans, who will play Bard in the upcoming Hobbit trilogy) to help bring the killer to justice. A game of cat and mouse follows as the fantasy world of Poe’s poetry becomes mixed with reality when Poe’s love interest Emily Hamilton (Alice Eve) becomes a target. Fans of Poe’s work will enjoy the movie with its’ numerous references to such stories as The Cask of Amontillado and The Tell-Tale Heart. However, it takes a leap of faith to imagine Poe becoming the hero a la Sherlock Holmes. You almost wish they would have just made this a Holmes adventure with Poe in the background. I think it would have worked better. Cusack does a fine job but, at times, doesn’t quite have the skills to bring the role to the next level. A more accomplished actor could have done so. Unfortunately, I always think of him as a 80s comedy star. The movie was filmed in 2010 in Belgrade and Budapest, so it’s visually appealing and atmospheric. However, the fact that it sat on the shelf as long as it did before being released is usually a tell-tale sign of a troubled film. It’s like a fine Chinese dinner…satisfying at the moment but leaves you wanting more an hour later. It’s worth checking out as a rental but shouldn’t be high on your Halloween viewing list. However, it may well become a guilty pleasure of mine upon a second viewing.

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