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The Raven (2012)

I’ve been rewatching a lot of films that I’d only previously seen once or twice recently. A lot of them I had no intention of leaving so long but it’s scary how quickly ten years can go by. That’s how long it’s been since I last watched this one.

The Raven (2012)

I mentioned a little while back in my Identity (2002) post that I’m a big fan of John Cusack. Sadly this was one of his last notable movies before he seemingly vanished into straight-to-dvd/bargain bin obscurity.

If you haven’t seen it, it’s a crime/mystery/thriller starring, as previously mentioned, John Cusack (Being John Malkovich), Luke Evans (Dracula Untold), Alice Eve (Star Trek Into Darkness) and Brendan Gleeson (Braveheart) among others.

The film’s title is derived from writer and poet, Edgar Allen Poe’s 1845 poem of the same name. The story itself is a fictionalised account of the last days of his life.

This is what it’s about according to the internet:

“In 19th-century Baltimore, Detective Emmett Fields (Evans) makes a horrifying discovery: The murders of a mother and daughter resemble a fictional crime described in a story by Edgar Allan Poe (Cusack). When another murder occurs, also seemingly inspired by Poe's writings, Fields realises a serial killer is on the loose and enlists Poe's help in catching the felon. The stakes become personal for the struggling author when someone close to him seems set to become the killer's next victim.”

I really like this movie. It has a very “Jack the Ripper-esque” feel about it. It also reminds me a bit of Sleepy Hollow (1999) just without the fantasy element. To be fair though that’s probably just down to the era it’s set. Still, that particular time holds a certain appeal that I find intriguing - You know, the foggy cobbled streets, lanterns, dark alleyways and cloak-wearing scallywags lurking in the shadows.

The first time I ever heard of Edgar Allen Poe was as a kid. I had a small book of horror stories, and included in it was “The Tell Tale Heart”. It’s a short story about paranoia, madness and murder. In the story “the narrator” tells how he murdered an old man because of his hatred for his vulture-like eye and buried his dismembered corpse under the floorboards. The following morning when the police arrive to investigate the report of a “shriek” in the night, the narrator begins to hear the beating of the old man’s heart and is convinced the police can hear it too. It was one of my first exposures to horror and it made a huge impression on me! For this and many other reasons I feel a strange affection for this movie.

Although the story itself is fiction, it’s inspired by “accounts of real situations surrounding Edgar Allan Poe's mysterious death”. On October 3rd, 1849, Poe was found delirious on the streets of Baltimore, "in great distress, and in need of immediate assistance", according to the man who found him. He was taken to Washington Medical College but died four days later on Sunday the 7th October. He wasn’t coherent long enough to tell anyone how he’d come to be in such a situation and was wearing clothes that weren’t his own. He apparently called out the name “Reynolds” the night before he died but it’s never been determined who “Reynolds” was. These events are included in the film but the main story surrounding the murders based on Poe’s works are pure fiction. Still, it makes for a good film.

I’d actually forgotten that Luke Wilson was in this movie. He’s a good actor and plays along Cusack really well as Detective Fields. Apparently Jeremy Renner was originally going to play the part but dropped out to do Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011). Ewan McGregor and even Joaquin Phoenix we’re also approached for the film.

Alice Eve provides the love interest in peril while the brilliant Brendan Gleeson plays her disapproving father. Kevin McNally who played “Gibbs” in the Pirate of the Caribbean movies also makes up the supporting cast.

Like a lot of the films I post about this might not be the best one you’ve ever seen but I definitely think it’s worth a watch, especially if you like a good 19th century-based crime thriller.

Seen it? What do you think? Let me know below.

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