The Raven

Rated 3.0

The Raven is a murder mystery/horror film with some intriguing literary and period-piece trappings. It’s got Edgar Allan Poe as its doomed protagonist doing battle with an elaborately fiendish serial killer whose crimes emulate aspects of Poe’s best-known tales of horror—“The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Masque of the Red Death,” “The Pit and the Pendulum,” etc. John Cusack plays Poe, and director James McTeigue lays it all out in a pulpy, erratically lavish frenzy. The script plays mainly as a series of spasmodically spectacular set-pieces with only a cursory interest in narrative coherence. Psychological credibility always takes a back seat to sensational and intermittently gory display. But the Poe angle and the period setting (Baltimore, 1849) were enough to keep me interested most of the time. Luke Evans as Inspector Emmett Fields, does, by far, the best acting in the film. Cusack might be too nice a guy for his role here. He seems to zone out on the more convulsive and contradictory aspects of the character. But the cast is not the problem. They’re just at the mercy of this production’s outlandish story dynamics. Cinemark 14, Feather River Cinemas and Paradise Cinema 7. Rated.