DVD Review: The Raven

Review by Toby Lattimore

The Raven (15)

This dark murder mystery sees the relatively inexperienced James McTeigue (V for Vendetta) direct the gothic world of Edgar Allan Poe, the famous American Poet, whose short stories of grizzly horror are the inspiration for the twisted criminal. This means that Poe has an insight into the proceeding crimes and is therefore enlisted as an advisor to Detective Fields, aptly played by Luke Evans (Immortals) who is charged with hunting down the maniac.

The ever popular John Cusack plays Poe and asserts his usual, complex charm in the role. He plays the frustrated alcoholic writer with style, whose love for the beautiful Emily Hamilton, excellently played by Alice Eve, is his only positive driving force. But soon this comes under siege as the villain targets her and his ultimate goal is revealed. The poet must become hero and rescue his beloved.

Set in the 19th Century, we are treated to a range of dramatic sets and at times the film borders on theatrical, Phantom of the Opera springing to mind in a number of sequences, or a crack of lightning might be thrown in to emphasis a dramatic moment. This does become a weakness though as it is over played and the real strength of the film can be found in the torment shown by Cusack and Eve when faced with desperate situations; a sense of intense intimacy as the odds mount up against them.

McTeigue has worked as assistant director on many films and has directed only four but offers a film of intrigue and captures something macabre which is true to the original works of fiction which Poe dreamed up. It also draws upon fact and the bizarre way in which the film concludes is a neatly worked explanation for the Edgar Allan Poe real-life mystery.