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The Raven - DVD Review

The Raven

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

JOHN Cusack has claimed that The Raven captures the spirit of Edgar Allan Poe in that it successfully marries the high brow with the pop. In truth, it’s more pop than intelligent but that doesn’t detract from the general enjoyment.

As directed by James (V For Vendetta) McTeigue, the film offers a satisfying blend of gruesome visuals, absorbing ‘whodunnit’ and intriguing character study that has the good grace to play to the strengths of its leading man.

It takes a Se7en-style conceit, too, in that it takes an imagined look at the final days of the illustrious writer as he is forced to investigate a series of murders that have clearly been inspired by his works such as The Pit & The Pendulum.

Cusack has fun channelling both the barbed charisma and propensity for self-destruction that was Poe, gleefully commanding the screen whenever opportunity affords.

But he’s ably supported by the likes of Luke Evans, as the lead detective on the case, Brendan Gleeson as a disapproving soon-to-be-father in law and Alice Eve, as a love interest who is unwittingly drawn into the cat and mouse psychological game that quickly unfolds between the murderer and Poe.

McTeigue also does well to recreate some of Poe’s most gruesome crimes and invests the overall look of proceedings with a hellish atmosphere befitting the mood of the piece.

But he fares less successfully in really examining the twisted philosophies at play, while coming up with an ending that underwhelms more than it impresses. As such, he cannot be said to have recreated the twisted brilliance of many of Poe’s writings, which lets down his subject matter somewhat.

Whether modern audiences will care, though, remains a moot point as in the main The Raven succeeds in what it principally sets out to achieve – to deliver a slick, popcorn-friendly yet adult orientated thriller that affords more room for guilty pleasures than it does any really serious thinking.

It’s a worthwhile journey and good to see Cusack back on form with material that comes close to realising his talents.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 111mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release Date: July 30, 2012