The Raven (2012)
Dir: James McTeigue
‘On October 7, 1849, Edgar Allan Poe was found, near death, on a park bench in Baltimore, Maryland. The last days of his life remain a mystery’…
Well, not anymore, as this gothic thriller fills those last days with a fictionalised storyline full of mystery and murder, just like Poe’s writing.
Exactly like Poe’s writing in fact. It reminded me of the fantastic TV series ‘Castle’ with the storyline, a serial killer starts murdering people in ways that are in Poe’s work, and so Edgar (John Cusack) is brought in by the police (led by Inspector Fields played by Luke Evans), first to be questioned and then as a consultant, however the killer makes things even more personal when he abducts Poe’s girlfriend Emily (Alice Eve).
This really seems to go along with the trend of taking historical characters or events but giving them a fictionalised “what if?…” treatment. What may be its strength is that the story is not overly fantastical, such as things like ‘Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’, and the main character isn’t one who is still hugely in the public zeitgeist like Lincoln, and so audiences may be more inclined to go with it. However, some of that may also be its weakness, in that this is not a historical figure people were crying out to see on film, and the storyline doesn’t push the suspension of disbelief into the realms of making this a fun adventurous romp.
As I’ve pointed out already, it almost feels lazy that there are no great leaps and bounds taken, with a story that is almost identical to that of ‘Castle’ and with stakes being raised in ways that were completely forseeable and often cliché. This may be part of the reason that the film didn’t fly at the box office, taking almost exactly its own budget, and in Hollywood breaking even isn’t regarded as success.
Gothic mysteries aren’t my cup of tea usually, and though the style does suit these storylines very well with all the visual elements that go with it, constraining this storyline within the realities of Edgar Allen Poe is like making it fight with one hand tied behind its back, there may be some interesting moves along the way, but ultimately it was going to lose.