John Cusack and Luke Evans star in this blood-curdling tale of terror that's as dark and haunting as the legendary master of the macabre who inspired it - Edgar Allan Poe. Baltimore, 1849. While investigating a horrific double murder, police detective Emmett Fields (Evans) makes a startling discovery: the killer's methods mirror the twisted writings of Edgar Allan Poe (Cusack). Suspecting Poe at first, Fields ultimately enlists his help to stop future attacks. But in this deadly game of cat and mouse, the stakes are raised with each gruesome slaying as the pair races to catch a madman before he brings every one of Poe's shocking stories to chilling life...and death.
That's Edgar Allan Poe himself, staggering around a tavern and challenging patrons to finish a simple line of doggerel they really ought to recognize: "'Quoth the Raven…' Anyone?" The only person croaking out a "Nevermore" is a Frenchman, wouldn't you know it. Such are the humiliations for poor Poe (played by John Cusack) in The Raven, an attempt to recast the tortured author as an investigator in a fiendish series of murders drawn from his own writings. He's enlisted by a Baltimore detective (Luke Evans, Immortals) to assist in the sleuthing, even though Poe would rather be drinking or wooing a fair maiden (Alice Eve), or probably both. (He doesn't seem to have a lot of time for writing.) This Sherlock Holmes-ian concoction might have worked if director James McTeigue had found a way to maintain interest in the actual storyline, but the movie's weirdly dull--even with a damsel in distress for the second half of the action, the characters are colorless and the direction mechanical. Cusack gives it his all, wrapping a sneer around a handful of one-liners that George Sanders might've enjoyed, but the gore and the quips sit uneasily together, in a desperate hunt for a proper tone. And while this kind of vehicle isn't expected to provide documentary reality, it must be said that the movie never convinces us this person is remotely close to the actual writer called Edgar A. Poe. The Raven couldn't handle that level of perversity. --Robert Horton